Alive & well


POSTED: Monday, August 10, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

IF you haven't noticed, the community theater season is off to an early start this year. The Actors Group led the way, perhaps anxious to inaugurate its new, larger performance space on Smith Street with its first production of the 2009-10 season, “;Miso,”; which is garnering good reviews.

Theatergoers will see other changes as well.

Due to popular demand, Manoa Valley Theatre's opening night performances will switch to Thursdays instead of Wednesdays, and Saturday matinees are being added.

Due to renewed interest in “;A Chorus Line,”; thanks to the documentary “;Every Little Step,”; which starred Hawaii stage alum Jason Tam, “;A Chorus Line”; will take the place of “;Rent,”; instead of making its originally planned Oahu community theater debut in February.

The current economy doesn't seem to have had much effect on two other longstanding groups—Hawaii Opera Theatre, celebrating its 50th anniversary, and Diamond Head Theatre, 95 years and counting.

And the University of Hawaii's Kennedy Theatre is carrying on despite overall budget cuts.

“;We are determined to provide a full season of exciting theater and dance works for Honolulu audiences and our UH-Manoa students in spite of the fiscal challenges,”; said theater and dance chair Dennis Carroll in a press statement. “;We have tightened our production budgets and reduced services that we hope will not impact our audiences.”;

Hope springs eternal, and as long as entertaining live theater is offered, there will be an audience. Here's what theater lovers can look forward to seeing:


The Actors Group

1116 Smith St., 2nd floor
722-6941, www.taghawaii.net

”;Miso”;: A joint project with London's Mask Arts & International Workshop Festival, it tells the story of the Nagao family who is struggling to make ends meet in 1930s rural Japan. Through Aug. 16.
”;Night of January 16th”;: Bjorn Faulkner has swindled millions of dollars from investors. In the wake of a crash, he is facing bankruptcy despite a loan from the wealthy father of his new wife. In a penthouse with his mistress, Bjorn falls to his death. Was it a suicide—or murder? His mistress is placed on trial for murder. Each night, audience members will be picked to be the jury. Sept. 25 to Oct. 18.
”;Dancing Between Heaven & Hell”;: Part of TAG's Dark Night series, and written and directed by Eric Nemoto, who's currently in “;Miso.”; Oct. 5 to 25.
”;November”;: David Mamet's scathing take on the American political system. It's November in a presidential election year, and incumbent Charles Smith's chances for reelection are looking grim. Amidst the biggest fight of his political career, Smith has to find time to pardon a couple of turkeys, saving them from the slaughter before Thanksgiving, to win back public support. Nov. 27 to Dec. 20.
”;For the Time Being—A Christmas Oratorio”;: Written in 1942, when the world was at war, W.H. Auden's play is a parable merging the Biblical and the contemporary with a result that is simultaneously audacious and poetic. It has affinities with the medieval mystery plays, which enacted events of biblical history with a secular, and often comic, story. Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, 2010.
”;The Piano Lesson”;: The Pulitzer Prize-winning play is the fourth in August Wilson's cycle of plays about the African-American experience in the 20th century. Set in Pittsburgh in 1936, it focuses on the Charles siblings, Berniece and Boy Willie, who clash over whether to sell their family's piano, into which is carved the faces and history of their family, which included slaves, two of whom were sold for the piano. Feb. 12 to March 7.
”;Happy Days”;: There are only two characters, a man and a woman, in Samuel Beckett's intellectual tickler in two short acts. In the first, Winnie is buried to her waist, but has access to civilized accoutrements of toothbrush, mirror and pistol. In the second act, she is buried to her neck and survives by finding delight in mundane routine and the tiniest of things. This stirring work depicts the ferocity of the human spirit, the trap of existence and the limited nature of communication. April 16 to May 9.
”;Niagara Falls”;: A Lambda Literary Awards finalist, the play consists of two connected acts: “;American Coffee”; in which a mother deals with the sudden appearance of her gay son, who has appeared with his lover for his sister's wedding, and “;The Shangri-La Motor Inn,”; which picks up with the newlywed couple, already having doubts about their future. Enter a gay hotel clerk who takes it upon himself to save their marriage. June 18 to July 11.


Army Community Theatre

Richardson Theatre, Ft. Shafter
438-4480, www.armytheatre.com

”;Barnum”;: The award-winning show traces the career of America's greatest showman, P.T. Barnum, from 1835 to 1889, when he joined James A. Bailey to form “;the greatest show on Earth.”; Sept. 3 to 19.
”;High School Musical 2”;: The sequel to ACT's hit of last season. School is out, and Troy and Gabriella are looking forward to a summer to remember, but Troy also needs money to go to college. As it turns out, Sharpay, the self-proclaimed primo girl of East High, has her eye set on Troy, and gets him a job at the country club her parents own. Nov. 19 to Dec. 5.
”;A Chorus Line”;: The popular musical-verite about a chorus audition for a Broadway musical, this production follows a hopeful band of Broadway gypsies who aim to land a job in the show. Feb. 25 to March 20, 2010.
”;The Threepenny Opera”;: The revival of the revolutionary Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill piece is set in London's seedy Soho district before and during the coronation of Queen Victoria, complete with the classic “;Mack the Knife.”; May 13 to 29.


ACT Readers Theater

All works are by the late award-winning American playwright Horton Foote, who died in March :

”;The Road to Graveyard”;: Sept. 13, 20 and 27.
”;The Carpet bagger's Children”;: Nov. 22, 29 and Dec. 6.
”;The Man Who Climbed Pecan Trees”;: Feb. 28, March 7 and 14.
”;Lily Dale”;: May 16, 23 and 30.


Diamond Head Theatre

520 Makapuu Ave.
733-0274, www.diamondheadtheatre.com

”;The Drowsy Chaperone”;: A show with a difference, it begins with the audience being greeted by a narrator sitting on a darkened stage. He is a fan of vintage musicals who seems to be suffering from the blues, and he quickly decides to cheer things up by playing a record of the original cast recording of a fictional Broadway musical. No sooner has the needle touched the record than we, together with the narrator, are transported to a 1928 Broadway theatre and into “;The Drowsy Chaperone”;, a play-within-a-comedy crammed full of every cliche, gag and gimmick from the golden age of musicals. Sept. 25 to Oct. 11.
”;White Christmas”;: The Broadway adaptation of the perennial seasonal movie with its memorable score by Irving Berlin. Two Army buddies from World War II have become a very successful song and dance team. They meet up with two sisters and follow the girls to their next show at an inn in Vermont. Arriving at the inn, they discover it's empty, but the innkeeper turns out to be their beloved former commanding general. The boys decide to try to drum up some business for the old man by bringing in their New York show, and ultimately their whole army division. Dec. 4 to 20.
”;The Joy Luck Club”;: The stage adaptation of Amy Tan's novel, it tells the story of four older Chinese-American women and their complex relationships with their American-born daughters. The play moves between China in the early 1900s to San Francisco in the 1980s as the eight women struggle to reach across a seemingly impassable chasm of culture, generations and expectations to find strength and happiness. Jan. 29 to Feb. 14, 2010.
”;SHOUT! The Mod Musical”;: The music, the fashion and the freedom of the 1960s is recreated on stage, a non-stop journey filled with the infectious pop songs of the period, such as “;To Sir With Love,”; “;Downtown,”; “;You Don't Have to Say You Love Me,”; “;Georgy Girl”; and “;Windy.”; March 19 to April 4.
”;Guys and Dolls”;: Set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City, the classic musical comedy contains a cast of vivid characters who have become legendary: Sarah Brown, the upright but uptight “;doll;”; Sky Masterson, the slick, high-rolling gambler; Adelaide, the nightclub performer, engaged to the same man for 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiance, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game. May 14 to 30.
”;The Sound of Music”;: The Oscar and Hammerstein movie musical brought to the stage. When a postulant proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. She captures the heart of the stern Captain, and they marry. Upon returning from their honeymoon, they discover that Austria is being occupied by the Nazis. The family's narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II provides a thrilling and inspirational finale. July 9 to 25.


Hawaii Opera Theatre

Blaisdell Concert Hall
596-7858, www.hawaiiopera.org

”;Le Nozze Di Figaro”;: Mozart's delightful comedy brims with familiar favorites as the plot weaves through the on-going antics of the Barber of Seville, now in the throes of wedding plans. Jan. 29, 31 and Feb. 2, 2010.
”;Die Walkuere”;: Richard Wagner's famous opera with “;The Ride of the Valkyries.”; Feb. 12, 14 and 16.
”;La Boheme”;: The timeless Puccini opera brings its eternally hopeful and classic love story to light. Feb. 26, 28 and March 2.


Honolulu Theatre for Youth

Tenney Theatre, St. Andrew's Cathedral
839-9885, www.htyweb.org

”;Nightingale”;: Fantastical fairy tale bsed on a Hans Christian Anderson story will be staged with spectacular costumes and the unique choreography of the Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre. Recommended for ages 4 and up. Aug. 28 to Oct. 3.
”;Stripes & Stars: A Surprising History of the United States”;: Join award-winning, local storyteller/musician James B. McCarthy for a celebration of the diversity of the cultures, geography and music that have shaped our nation. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Oct. 23 to Nov. 14.
”;Amahl and the Night Visitors”;: One of the most popular children's operas, it starts when Amahl tells his mother that three kings have arrived at their humble peasant dwelling, which she doesn't until Melchior, Balthazar and Kaspar walk through the door. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Dec. 4 to 19.
”;The Three Year Swim Club”;: Set on Maui in the late 1930s, this world premiere production written by “;da pidgin guerilla”; Lee A. Tonouchi is inspired by the true story of swimming coach Soichi Sakamoto and his Three Year Swim Club, ordinary high school students whose Olympics dream led to training in plantation irrigation ditches, ending by astonishing themselves and the world. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Feb. 5 to March 6, 2010.
”;Keiko and Louie: Best Best Friends mostly”;: Louie needs a friend and Keiko loves to make friends. When the two find each other, they also discover the ups and downs, the fun and trouble of friendship. Interactive play uses humor, movement and participation to engage young audiences. Created for ages 3 and up by HTY's Director of Drama Education Daniel Kelin. March 13 to 27.
”;Just So Stories”;: How did the camel get his hump? How did the elephant get her trunk? Short fables from the author of “;The Jungle Book”; teach valuable lessons through imagination, adventure and humor. Recommended for ages 4 and up. April 9 to May 8.


Kumu Kahua Theatre

46 Merchant St.
536-4441, www.kumukahua.org

”;The Statehood Project”;: Monologues, scenes and stories written by local playwrights, poets and storytellers offeri multiple perspectives on the issue of statehood in Hawaii in light of this year's 50th anniversary. Aug. 21 to Sept. 20.
”;Voices from Okinawa”;: Produced last year by the LA's East West Players, the story is of Kama Hutchins, an American of Okinawan ancestry who teaches English to local Okinawans. He eschews traditional ESL teaching methods to have his students relate personal stories to the class. As the tales are told, the young students reveal their attitudes toward the American soldiers stationed on the island. The drama blends with comedy as Kama is compelled to defend his teaching methods to the school principal. Nov. 5 to Dec. 6.
”;House Lights & Prolonged Sunlight”;: One-act play and six short plays by Eric Yokomori explore the human condition via dramatic surrealism and theater of the absurd. Intense aberrant behavior is the norm as characters confront one another in strange situations. In one of the short plays, Joey tells Crystal that he possesses a magic rock into which he has placed all of his love, and no one can take it away from him. Crystal finds her own rock, and the battle begins. In another, an author attempts to convince a children's book publisher to buy his x-rated manuscript. In another, a bizarre cocaine deal goes bad. Jan. 14 to Feb. 14, 2010.
”;Maui the Demigod”;: Narrative theater adaptation of Steven Goldsberry's “;Maui the Demigod: An Epic Novel of Mythical Hawai'i.”; The play incorporates hula, chant and storytelling to bring the many myths of Maui to the stage, including his miraculous birth, prank-filled childhood, and heroic deeds such as slowing sun's pace and pulling an island from the ocean depths. March 18 to April 18.
”;The Hilo Massacre”;: On Aug. 1, 1938, more than 200 Big Island men and women attempted to peacefully demonstrate against the arrival of a ship from Oahu to express their solidarity with striking Honolulu union workers. They were met by police who fired tear-gas and riot guns and hosed the crowd. Fifty demonstrators were hospitalized. Based on the late Tremaine Tamayose's teleplay, originally produced for the KHET labor history series “;Rice and Roses,”; and based in part on research from labor historian William J. Puette's book “;The Hilo Massacre: Hawaii's Bloody Monday.”; May 20 to June 20.


Manoa Valley Theatre

2833 E. Manoa Road
988-6131, www.manoavalleytheatre.com

”;Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit”;: Gerard Alessandrini's affectionate spoof of show tunes, characters, personalities and plots of Broadway musicals takes on “;Jersey Boys,”; “;Mamma Mia!,”; “;South Pacific,”; “;Mary Poppins,”; “;The Lion King,”; “;Wicked,”; and others. Sept. 3 to 20.
”;Winter Wonderettes”;: Join the Wonderettes as they create a rockin' '60s party to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. Nov. 12 to 29.
”;The Dixie Swim Club”;: Five Southern women, whose friendships began on their college swim team, set aside an August weekend—spanning 33 years—to recharge those relationships. Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at North Carolina's Outer Banks to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other's lives. Jan. 14 to 31, 2010.
”;Hair”;: A group of young Americans search for love and peace during the Vietnam era in this 1968 Broadway hit rock musical, revived earlier this year. March 4 to 21.
”;Sleuth”;: Andrew Wyke is a successful mystery writer living a millionaire's life in his English manor house, which reflects his obsession with the inventions and deceptions of fiction and his fascination with games and game-playing. He lures his wife's lover to the house and convinces him to stage a robbery of her jewelry for their mutual benefit. The proposal sets off a chain of events that leaves the audience trying to decipher where Wyke's imagination ends and reality begins in this twisted game with murderous consequences. May 20 to June 6.
”;Once Upon One Time”;: This award-winning pidgin musical comedy by the late Lisa Matsumoto, Paul Palmore and Roslyn Catracchia adapts and intertwines familiar fairy tales into a fun Hawaiian-kine “;local-style”; fantasy for the whole family. The action takes place in a mythical local kingdom where outrageous characters such as Noelani an da Six Menehunes (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Kekoa and Maile (Hansel and Gretel), Red Rose Haku (Little Red Riding Hood), and more, meet for one crazy adventure. July 8 to 25.


University of Hawaii-Manoa

Kennedy Theatre
956-7655 or 944-2697, www.hawaii.edu/kennedy

”;When the Cassowary Pooped!”;: Help find the giant, endangered Cassowary bird as he hides from audience in this delightful environmental tale. Puppets and magical effects combine with coconut “;robber”; crabs, birds of paradise and hip-hop tree kangaroos to tell the humorous tale of how the bird's poop helps create the New Guinea rainforest. For children 4 to 8. Oct. 2 through 4.
”;The Sound of Ecstasy and Nectar of Enlightenment”;: Harmonies fill the theater as the Korean Buddhist monks of the Young San Preservation Group perform poemp'ae or “;sacred chanting,”; accompanied by Korean drums, cymbals and gongs as well as ritualized dance pieces known as chakpop. Oct. 8.
”;The Homecoming”;: One of Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter's best plays. A 70-year-old father lives in a seedy house in London with his brother and two adult sons. Into this volatile household enters the eldest son and his attractive young wife. Sexuality and a struggle for power, laced with moments of outrageous comedy, drive this play. Nov. 13 to 22.
”;The White Snake”;: A Beijing opera in its English-language world premiere, it relates the famous legend of a snake spirit who descends to earth as a beautiful woman, marries a handsome young man, and then must fight to restore his life and save their marriage in the face of super-natural attacks from a powerful monk who believes that she is an evil demon. Feb. 5 to 14, 2010.
On Feb. 8, there will also be a concert of Chinese theater song, jingju (Beijing opera) and kunqu, with special performances by master artists from the Jiangsu Province Jingju Company, who will be in residence training students for “;The White Snake.”;
”;Dancing Green!”;: Annual dance concert features environmentally sustainable-themed choreography by UH faculty and guest artists, and performed by UHM students. March 11 through 14.
”;From the Horse's Mouth Hawai'i”;: Dance/theater concert in which 20 leading local dance professionals collaborate, each telling a story from their life, performing their own sequence and interacting with the other artists. New York-based choreographers Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham will work with the local dance experts. March 19 and 20.
”;The Judith of Shimoda,”; preceded by ”;The Mahagonny Song Play”;: World premiere of the English language version of Bertolt Brecht's rediscoverd and restored play, as translated by Markus Wessendorf. The play draws on historical events that occurred after Commodore Perry opened Japan to the West in 1854. To appease the American consul who threatens to bomb the city if the Japanese refuse to negotiate a trade agreement, Japanese authorities ask Okichi, a geisha, to serve him. Brecht focuses on what happens to Okichi after she agrees to sacrifice herself for the sake of her country. April 30 through May 2.
In a prelude to “;The Judith of Shimoda,”; the Mae Z. Orvis Opera Studio of the Hawaii Opera Theatre will perform “;the little Mahagonny,”; a glimpse of the full-length opera “;The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,”; in which boxing, eating and sex are cornerstones of an anti-utopia. Brecht's characters are wanderers who found the city and prey upon those who come after them. This double bill is presented in conjunction with the 13th Symposium of the International Brecht Society on “;Brecht in/and Asia”; being held at the Manoa campus May 19 to 23.


University of Hawaii-Manoa

Earle Ernst Lab Theatre
Same information as above

”;Fall Footholds”;: The latest work from MFA and BFA dance students, and new student choreography are presented. Oct. 21 to 25.
”;Etta Jenks”;: Theatrical montage of a woman whose journey to become a Hollywood star leads her to work in the porn industry. Dec. 2 to 6.
”;Appalachia Hawai'i”;: A Caucasian military family with Appalachian roots living in Hawaii Kai has very little in common with a local family living in Pearl City during the early 1970s until they learn their 16-year-old daughter is pregnant by the local family's son. Feb. 24 to 28, 2010.
”;Spring Footholds”;: The spring finale shows off the work of this year's student dancers and choreographers. April 14 to 18.

”;Nocturnal Wanderer”;: Through his subconscious, Sleepwalker encounters individuals that test both his faith and his desire to resist ungodly temptation. Written by Gao Xingjian. Sept. 12 to 19.
”;Exposed”;: Two performance pieces—dances inspired by the architectural photography of Natalia Ibarra-Blomgren, and the dialogue in Daniel MacIvor's “;This is a Play”;—take the saying, “;Do what I mean, not what I say,”; literally. Nov. 14 to 21.





        » The phone number for the Actors Group is 722-6941. An incorrect number was listed in the community theater playbill yesterday on Page 26.