This week I am compelled to honor one of the greatest stage actresses of the 20th century, Ms. Julie Harris. The five-time Tony award winner, whose career spanned seven decades, passed at the age of 87 on Saturday. When asked in the 1990s what she would do if she knew the world was going to end tomorrow, Harris replied, "I'd go to the theater."
In 2000, I worked on the stage production "Winter," starring Harris, at Victory Gardens Theater of Chicago. Always approachable and happy to offer theater guidance to any and all who asked, Harris shared with the crew that the famous thespian couple, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, had mentored her in the early 1940s. That gift compelled her to offer the same kindness to young people throughout her life. She talked of her experiences with James Dean, whom she considered a master actor. "Just drink the drink," she said, was an important lesson she learned from Dean, meaning don't act drinking, don't act walking, just do what you have to do in a natural way, even if it's different in each performance. She also shared a story involving the actor Aiden Quinn. Quinn bumped into her and praised her body of work, then asked what she was doing in Chicago. "I'm in a play," the 75-year-old actress recounted with a bit of spunk. Quinn inquired, "You still act?" To which Harris replied, "Yes, I still act, do you?"
Michael Clements creates Fresh Art
Grins 2 Go photo
Maui Academy of Performing Arts Executive and Artistic Director David Johnston (left), enjoys the Garden Party with Craig Bode.
Grins 2 Go photo
Maui Mall has recently been showcasing live local theater at 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Last month the cast of "RENT" was in performance, and last weekend Talking Stories presented excerpts from Lee Cataluna's "Folks You Meet In Longs." Cataluna may be Hawaii's premier humorist, blending a Neil Simon and Wendy Wasserstein comedy style with local flavor. Cataluna's latest work, "Flowers of Hawai'i," will be presented by Oahu's Kumu Kahua Theatre at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater in February 2014.
Talking Stories promotes the perpetuation and preservation of Hawaii's local language, culture and ideals by growing local actors, audiences, and writers. One of my favorite monologues of the day was Jackie Perry's, in pursuit of her ill-behaved child through Long's, while threatening him with her "high-heeled rubber slipper." Manasseh Robidoux's exasperated cell phone conversation, in fear of being seen by co-workers, while trying to determine what brand of tampons to buy his wife, was equally hysterical.
On Saturday, the winners of the recent "Shower of Stars" competition will be in performance, featuring the under 17 competitors, dancer Tayte Komoku (first place), singer Aaliyah Times (second place) and singer Mele Sanchez (third place). The adult category features singer Gena Miller (first place), Christian hip hop artist Stephon McCarher (second place) and rock band Kai (third place). The Maui Mall performances are free of charge.
One of the most enjoyable events on the island is Maui Academy of Performing Arts' annual Garden Party. But contrary to belief, you're not required to wear a big colorful hat. The fine wine, silent auction items and live jazz are always wonderful, but the real reason to attend is the food. This year's vendors are Bentos by Bernard, Casanova, Cafe O'Lei, Capische?, Duke's Beach House, Flatbread Company, Maui Tacos, Monkeypod Kitchen, Spago, Stella Blues Cafe, Three's Bar & Grill, Vineyard Food Co. and Waterfront Restaurant.
Entertainment will feature highlights from the "Les Miserables" production. If you've had those songs stuck in your head for the past two weeks, here's a chance to see them performed again. And if you didn't catch it at the Castle Theater, you won't want to miss the musical cliff notes version. Jazz duo Moondance will also return to entertain, while guests mingle through the vendor booths enjoying fine wines from Whole Foods Market, locally brewed beer from Maui Brewing Co., and non-alcoholic beverages from Blue Sky Beverage and Maui Coffee Roasters. The all-inclusive tickets also include a complementary coconut lemongrass chair massage, passion fruit hand facials and organic make-up touch ups by Kapalua Spa.
Unique to this annual event is Fresh Art. Guests may watch some of the island's top painters and sculptors create beautiful works of art to be sold at the end of the afternoon by auctioneer Kristi Scott. Maui artists creating Fresh Art are Robin Bones, Karen Camara, Michael Clements, Tim DeShong, Joseph Fletcher, Jack Hamilton, Rebecca Lowell, Susie Burnside Monroe, Jamie Roth, Jan Shaner and Steve Turnbull.
* Celebrate with MAPA at the Garden Party's Silver Anniversary on the shady lawn of the Yokouchi Family Estate in Wailuku, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. 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 or purchase in person at Brazilian Beauty Boutique, The Nail Shop, Topaz Goldsmith & Gallery or Whole Foods Market. All proceeds benefit MAPA's educational performing arts programs and a portion of your ticket price is tax deductible.
Don't miss a weekend of world class hula at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. "Unukupukupu: Dancing Beyond the Veil" descends from the 'Aiha'a tradition of Halau O Kekuhi, anchored in the rituals of Pele. This lecture and demonstration will be conducted by Dr. Taupouri Tangaro, an Uniki 'Ailolo of Halau O Kekuhi and Associate Professor at Hawaii Community College. The event will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Yokouchi Pavilion. Tickets are $13 (plus applicable fees).
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, Dr. Tangaro will conduct a hula workshop in the 'Aiha'a dance and ho'opa'a traditions. The workshop is for advanced hula practitioners in kumu hula, alaka'i, 'olapa and ho'opa'a. Reservations are required and tickets are $10. To register, call Moani Whittle-Wagner at 243-4227.
"Ku Mai Ka Hula," the eighth annual International Hula Competition happens from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14. The annual international hula competition features halau winners from Japan and Hawaii in adult solo and group performances. The dancers compete in kahiko (traditional hula) and 'auana (modern-day hula) in both male and female categories. Pre-show performance starts 11:45 a.m. in the Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets are $25 (plus applicable fees), with half-price keiki tickets available. To purchase tickets for any MACC event visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
Ampersand Dance Company is seeking dancers ages 18 to 39 for its second season. Auditions will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Maui Academy of Performing Arts studios, located at 2027 Main St., Wailuku. Founded in 2012, Ampersand seeks to provide an artistic outlet for professional level adult dancers. Interested dancers must be out of high school and should display a strong background in ballet, jazz and contemporary dance technique, along with a mature sense of responsibility, dedication and passion for continual growth as an artist. Please bring a dance resume to the audition. Company members are encouraged to enroll in at least one advanced jazz or ballet class at MAPA and will perform in a November dance concert. For more information, email company director Rebecca Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org.