JOY. That's what life is about these days for Ron Bright as he returns from retirement a second time to direct "Nunsense" at the Castle Performing Arts Center in the theater that bears his name.
Former Castle Performing Arts
director Ron Bright just can't
stay away from the stage
By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin
"Nunsense," an award-winning Off-Broadway musical comedy, opens tonight with Jana and Tori Anguay, Jacqueline Grace, Jen Matsuura and Laine Yoshioka starring as five irrepressible and unconventional nuns.
"We're having so much joy doing this show that we laugh the whole time we're rehearsing it. The minute they put on a nun's habit it just changes their lives," said Bright.
"My greatest joy is doing this now when I don't have to sign a contract and worry about making this much money," Bright adds. The walls of his small office are covered with photos and other souvenirs of his 44 years in theater.
Place: Castle High School Bright Theatre,
Dates: 7:30 p.m. today to Saturday and March 8 to 10; and 2 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $12 general; $10 seniors; $8 for students under 18
Bright retired in 1993 but just as we suspected, wasn't able to stay away. He came out of retirement to serve as director of the CPAC learning center. He turned the position over to Willy Delos Santos, but when Delos Santos rreturned to Texas the job fell vacant again and Bright is back. Someone may be hired to take over next year but in the meantime, Bright and Castle High School teacher Ed Duggan are holding down the fort, with Bright as a volunteer.
"I come in to help these kids, teach the drama class and audition them and do the musical. That's why I'm here, on an interim basis, until a new hire is put in place. Then we will institute our total program which (involves) 5th through 12th graders. Right now, we've stopped the elementary section of the program and are just doing high school -- just this high school -- this year.
"I'm looking forward to the full program coming back. We go to the elementary schools, get the kids involved, bring 'em here, put them on stage as 5th graders.
"That's really the reason for our success (with CPAC) because we tap into this talent from the time they're in the 5th grade. We have a developmental program that can take them from 5th grade to 12th grade without a break (and) we've found magic in so many kids' voices right from the start."
Bright created CPAC at Castle and the program was expanded to take in students from other Windward Oahu schools. The CPAC program eventually became so popular that stories circulated about families who moved into the district from other parts of Oahu so that their future Broadway superstar would have a better chance of getting in to CPAC.
Bright says the toughest part of his work is casting. He tries to soothe hurt feelings and defuse tense situations by encouraging students to see a school show as a collective project.
"I never post a cast list. I get them together and we talk about what the whole project is about and how we team work and share and how we care about each other's feelings. The end result is not how good one person is going to be but how good everybody is going to be."
Bright uses a similar technique with parents.
"They can walk in on an audition or watch any rehearsal right up to a dress rehearsal. They can come and share the lives of their kids and that's important because their kids are missing at home a lot. I try my best to recruit any of them who want to help with costumes, scenery, security (or) as ushers."
Bright says that family is the key to his own career as well. One of his sons, Michael, is helping out with "Nunsense" by playing drums in the band; Michael's wife, Jade Anguay Bright, has been helping with the theater information line.
"My family is the saving grace in this whole endeavor. My wife helps with handling publicity (and) with programs and props. (My son) Clark helped me recruit for the show but he doesn't have time to play so Michael is playing.
"We made this a family affair and it's brought all of us joy. Now the grandkids are falling into it and asking when they can do it (and) they're the funnest of all the joys in my life."
Click for online
calendars and events.