There is a booming performing arts scene on Maui, and if there is an MVP, it is the audience. After all, there can be no show if there is no business. Maui residents support the arts in an above-and-beyond manner, not just by purchasing tickets, but by donating hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to local arts-based organizations.
From this weekend's Maui Calls, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's signature fundraiser, to Maui Academy of Performing Art's upcoming 25th annual Garden Party, and Maui OnStage's Sneak Peek, the arts are privileged to have a very generous population of patrons. When MAPA needed additional funding to mount the pricey "Les Miserables," many businesses and individuals stepped up to contribute. Maui OnStage's donation goal for installing new seats and stage lighting at the Historic Iao Theater was met last week, and audiences can expect the new seating and an upgraded lighting system by the time "Scrooge" opens for the holidays.
Another success story for Maui theater is the rising popularity of the free ONO! (one night only) productions at the Historic Iao Theatre. Originally created by Louis Fernandez and directed by Kristi Scott, as Bare Essential Theater, ONO! has evolved into an outlet for anyone in the community to put on a free show. The series is generally booked up several months in advance, and the performances over the past five years have included Vinnie Linares' "Damien," Rick Scheideman's "Sam Clemens and the Real Mark Twain," Lee Garrow's "Couples," "A Farewell Concert with Alison Mikes," and a Frank Sinatra tribute concert.
Ashley Pokorski as young Cosette from “Les Miserables.”
JACK GRACE photo
Kalani Whitford (from left), Barbara Sedano, Lisa Teichner, Todd Van Amburgh and Jennifer Rose in “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All to You.”
JACK GRACE photo
The ONO! series has also allowed directors to present passion projects, like Rueben Carrion's production of "Suburbia," Shawn Naone-Burger's poetry slams, and original plays like Joel Agnew's "Rock of Ages," David Michaels' "8 Weeks" and Phil Olson's "Mom's Gift." It took about two years for the idea to catch on, but since then, the ONO! performances average about 200 people per performance, a far cry from the early beginnings where the cast occasionally outnumbered the audience. An angel to the series is Leslie Granat, who has provided the funding necessary to keep ONO! free of charge for the past two seasons.
Upcoming performances include a dance ONO! choreographed by Sarah Loney, Hadley Garcia and Erin Kowalick on Sept. 9, and a performance by the Maui Community Band, directed by Lisa Owen, on Oct. 14. In July, ONO! celebrated its fifth year with "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All to You," directed by Linares, who will be returning in January to present a cast of seniors' version of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown." On Monday, Maui OnStage will present a staged reading of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" with a cast of 18 readers.
If you've never seen the stage version, it is more closely aligned with the Ken Kesey novel. Much of the story is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, who is only heard by the audience. The original Broadway production starred Kirk Douglas in the role generally attributed to Jack Nicholson. The 1963 production (which also starred a young Gene Wilder as Billy and William Daniels as Harding) opened just days before the assassination of President Kennedy, and its producers considered shutting down the show temporarily. Douglas, who fell in love with the role of McMurphy, purchased the film rights with the intention of reprising the role he originated. After a decade of failing to find a studio interested in the project, he gave the rights to his son, Michael Douglas. The younger Douglas eventually produced the film himself, cast his old roommate Danny DeVito, but passed on hiring his dad, whom he felt was too old for the role by 1975. The classic film went on to sweep the Oscars, winning Best Picture for Michael and Best Actor for Nicholson. Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater Company staged a revival starring Gary Sinise as McMurphy, and Tim Sampson as Chief Bromden (the son of Will Sampson, who played the Chief in the 1975 film), in 2001, which went on to both London and Broadway runs.
* "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Dale Wasserman, and based on the novel by Ken Kesey, will be performed Monday in a staged reading format as part of Maui OnStage's ONO! series at the Historic Iao Theater. The cast of 18 includes Brian Connelly as McMurphy, Andrea Giammattei as Nurse Ratched, and Francis Tau'a as Chief Bromden. The performance is at 6:30 p.m.; admission is free. "Cuckoo's Nest" is not appropriate for young audiences.
Also this week
"Shower of Stars," Hawaii's oldest ongoing talent show, returns to the Historic Iao Theater on Saturday. The competition is divided into two acts of competitors, younger than 17 and 18 and older. The performance is at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door.
Oh Boy Productions presents an additional performance of Aldyth Morris's "Damien." By request, Vinnie Linares will be giving his final performance as St. Damien at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Lahaina at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for this first-ever westside performance are $10, available through the Holy Innocents Church office, online at www.holyimaui.org, or at the door. For more information, call 661-4202.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents "Les Miserables," with music by Claude-Michael Schonberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boulil and Jean-Marc Natel, with English-language libretto by Herbert Kretzmer and based on the novel by Victor Hugo. The MAPA production, directed by David C. Johnston, choreographed by Andre Morissette and under the musical direction of Robert E. Wills, opens on Aug. 16 and runs through Aug. 25. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays in the MACC's Castle Theater. Tickets range from $15 to $65 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets for any MACC event, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org. For more information about the production, visit www.mauiacademy.org.
Celebrate with MAPA at the Garden Party's Silver Anniversary on the beautiful shady lawn of the Yokouchi Family Estate in Wailuku from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8. Enjoy Broadway-caliber entertainment, a chef's festival with gourmet cuisine from Maui restaurants, fine wines, locally brewed beer, live jazz, a silent auction and Fresh Art - art created on-site to be auctioned off in the live auction. Proceeds will benefit MAPA's educational performing arts programs. Tickets are $75 in advance or $85 the day of the event. The Garden Party is a 21 and older event. For tickets, call MAPA at 244-8760.
Camp CenterStage, founded by Alexis and Steven Dascoulias, announces Camp CenterStage: Maui. Registration has begun for this seven-day camp for ages 10 through 17. The performing arts retreat will run Saturday, Oct. 5 through Friday, Oct. 11 at Camp Maluhia. The program offers campers the opportunity to learn valuable life skills through a variety of arts and activities including acting, music, dance, creative writing, water sports and more. Tuition is $650, which includes all meals and housing. The week concludes with a final showcase for parents, friends and family. For more information, visit www.campcenterstage.org.