Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

MVT season
off to rockin’ start
with ‘Smokey Joe’s’

Music, magic, black comedy
and more are coming to Manoa


"The wait is over," says Manoa Valley Theatre producing director Dwight Martin of the runaway hit "Smokey Joe's Cafe," which the theater will stage after seeking production rights for the musical for nearly three years.

"Smokey Joe's Cafe," a "must-see/must-hear" production, says Martin, brings nearly 40 of the most popular rock 'n' roll songs of the '50s and early '60s to open the season Sept. 5 to 23.

The musical by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller takes audiences on a journey to a Golden Age of American culture, a world of first kisses and last dances, blue-light diners and red-hot rock, in a portrait of a decade ripe for social change.

The production won the 1996 Grammy Award for best musical and was nominated for seven Tony Awards.

The 2001-02 season will continue with "The Wash," "Over the River and Through the Woods," "Song of Singapore," "Wit" and "The Cripple of Inishmaan."

The season will run from September through July 2002. Season tickets will go on sale May 1.

Here are synopses of the productions:

>> "The Wash" by Philip Kan Gotanda (Nov. 14 to Dec. 2)

MVT is proud to continue its association with this gifted playwright, whose previous work, "Sisters Matsumoto," was presented in the 2000-01 season. "The Wash" is the story of a wife who leaves her husband after 40 years of marriage. Torn between what their Japanese upbringing demands of them and the happiness their American sense of self-fulfillment urges them to pursue, the husband and wife struggle to come to terms with the impact of their decision.

>> "Over the River and Through the Woods" by Joe DiPietro (Jan. 9 to 27)

With the echo of audience laughter still resonating from MVT's 2000-01 hit "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," the theater also offers another comedic work by Joe DiPietro. "Over the River and Through the Woods" is a family comedy about a single, Italian-American guy from New Jersey and his meddling grandparents. When Nick is offered his dream job, a promotion that would move him far away, his dismayed grandparents concoct a series of schemes designed to keep him around, including using the lovely (and single) Caitlin O'Hare as bait.

>> "Song of Singapore," book by Allan Katz with Erik Frandsen, Robert Hipkens, Michael Garin and Paula Lockheart, music and lyrics by Erik Frandsen, Robert Hipkens, Michael Garin and Paula Lockheart (March 6 to 24)

Demolishing the imaginary fourth wall with comedy, atmosphere, music, magic and just a hint of corny intrigue, "Song of Singapore" brings environmental theater to a new level. The story is a daft parody of movies like "Casablanca," weaving a web of stolen jewels, a torch singer whose lost memory holds the key to a great mystery, a sinister dragon lady, corrupt police and nonstop funny business, accompanied by a score from the 1940s swing era.

>> "Wit" by Margaret Edson (May 15 to June 2)

Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., is an English professor renowned for her aggressively probing, intensely rational studies and teachings of poet John Donne. But when she is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, her entire concept of reality lurches in new and unfamiliar directions. During the course of her illness, Vivian comes to reassess her life and her work with a humor that is transformative. Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play.

>> "The Cripple of Inishmaan" by Martin McDonagh (July 10 to 28)

Young, crippled Billy Claven lives on an island off the coast of Ireland, where he is subject to community ridicule. When word arrives that famed Hollywood director Robert Flaherty will be coming to a neighboring island to film, no one wants to be in the movie more than Billy, if only to break away from the bitter tedium of his daily life. This funny yet tender black comedy is delivered in the tradition of Irish storytelling.

All six shows in the 2001-02 season will be performed in MVT's 150-seat "black box" theater at 2833 East Manoa Rd. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25 for plays and $30 for musicals. A buffet dinner by the Eclectic Chef will be offered on the MVT lanai starting 90 minutes before curtain, Wednesdays through Saturdays. Call 988-6131 for tickets and information.

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