Let's Talk More

Here is a link to my review  https://vimeo.com/194439263  

Photos  Top row (L-R) Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam, CT (Mark Cappitella photo); William Gilletteʻs railroad train at Lake Coumpounce Amusement Park Bristol, CT; The cast of The Sherlock Holmes play within a play, L-R Simon Bright (Isaac Rauch), Felix Geisel (Scott M. Smith), William Gillette (William Hubbard), Aggie Wheeler (Adriane Raff Corwin),  Madge Geisel (Victoria McGee);  Martha Gillette (Barbara Sedano) William Gillette (William Hubbard); Felix & Madge.

2nd Row Simon & Aggie; Daria Chase (Kathy Collins); Inspector Goring (Rochelle Dunning); Marion Lorne, Aunt Clara in Bewitched & Martha; Martha & Daria.

Third Row, Aggie, Daria, Simon; Daria, Barbara, Madge; Felix, Martha and Simon; Madge.

Fourth Row, Inspector Goring; Inspector Goring & William Gillette; L-R Simon, Daria, Madge, Aggie, Felix & William; Top Row L-R Daria, Felix, William, Simon, Inspector Goring, First Row, Martha, Aggie, Madge.


Here is the link to my Mary Poppins review https://vimeo.com/193810803 Photos by Jack Grace. 

Here is a link to my review of Baldwin Performing Arts Learning Centerʻs Flowers for Algernon,  https://vimeo.com/192570450 Photos by Paul Janes-Brown. 

Here is a link to my review of Dance Maui 2016 https://vimeo.com/192284027 Photos by Paul Janes=Brown. 

Here is a link to my reviews for King Kekaulikeʻs Go Ask Alice and King Kamehamehaʻs Sympathy Jones https://vimeo.com/190030350  Photos by Earl Moniz & Jack Grace. 

Here is a link to my review of Clarence Darrrow https://vimeo.com/188768767 Photos by Brad Starks. 

Here is a link to my review of The House of Yes  https://vimeo.com/188092799?  Photos by Jack Grace. 

Pro Arts is alive well with House of Yes first post Lehman Pro Arts’ Production

 

Jonathan Lehman died on September 20, but his off spring, Pro Arts Playhouse, is very much alive and mature enough to continue on without the intelligence, energy and unending work Mr. Lehman invested into his progeny. The first play of the post Jonathan Lehman era is also Jim Oxborrow’s debut as a director and this is an auspicious maiden voyage onto the seas of theatrical endeavor for him. Mr. Oxborrow has taken on a difficult modern play. Written by Wendy macLeod in 1990, the House of Yes, is a fragile piece that requires exceptional skill to make it work. Mr Oxborrow is more than up to the challenge.

 

The Pascals live in Washington, D.D. Jackie O (Hoku Pavao) and Marty (John Williams) are fraternal twins, Anthony (Elisha Cullins) is their younger brother and Jennifer Rose is the matriarch of the family. Into this eccentric group of bourgeois Americans comes Marty's fiancée Lesly (Patty Lea Sylva), a waitress in a donut shop in New York City, who is surprisingly acceptant of the odd family and their behavior, she is soon to become a part of.

 

It is Thanksgiving 1983 and like all families the Pascals are gathering for the annual feast during a hurricane. A hurricane in DC in late November? I don't think so, but one has to accept the circumstances and suspend disbelief. I think less thunder and more wind would have been more accurate. Hurricanes are seldom accompanied by thunder and lighting. Thunderstorms are formed by vertical winds and hurricanes are generally formed by horizontal winds, but that is a minor quibble in this wonderful excursion into familial insanity. The Pascals are as weird as the Addams family, without the cartoon horror characters.

 

Jackie O, the "crazy" one looks out the window and mentions that the Kennedy's are their neighbors. One can only imagine it must be the Ted Kennedy's, since the former first lady, rotated between Manhattan, Greece and Ari's boat. We know they live in a tony section of DC and are well off. Mr Oxborrow, with assistance from Pro Arts resident designer, Caro Walker and set construction genius Daniel Vickers has expanded the stage and given us a marvelous setting for this nutty farce, including greek columns and cleverly including the two areas of the play in one set, with the different scenes delineated by bonnie prucha's lighting. There is one moment where the lighting is especially effective and provides not only information which pushes the plot forward, but also another uproarious moment in this play that is full of great laughs from this outstanding cast.

 

I said this play is a fragile work, primarily due to the insanity of Jackie O. Insanity is a difficult thing to portray truthfully and maintain the audience's sympathy and understanding. Often times when insanity is portrayed it can become tedious as nothing that the character does, no matter how far fetched can be questioned. Ms MacLeod has given us a nuanced neurotic, who we learn has an erotic in utero connection to her fraternal twin, which drives their unnatural, but not un-understandable relationship.

 

Ms Pavao, a Maui native, trained in New York, could easily have remained there and made a career with her husband, the equally talented Ricky Jones, on the Great White Way. But it is our good fortune that Maui called and they came, she to return home and he to make a home.

 

One of the most difficult things in the theater is to have a private moment. This is where an actor is alone, without words, doing. In the opening of this play Ms Pavao has an extended, gorgeous private moment. She is classically, stunning in a black cocktail dress, triple pearl necklace, with fantastic Marc Tolliver of Lava 145 styled hair. I hesitate to refer to it as a wig, because it is so real and natural looking and it is such a perfect look for this character. Ms Pavao, in this opening moment, silently and clearly establishes the neurosis of Jackie O with a subtlety that is as delicate as a flower. Ms Pavao's Jackie O is a wonderful creation who, while she is identified by the others as being mentally ill, is far from the sickest character in the play.

 

Ms Pavao's Jackie O, particularly when she changes into the famous Chanel suit created by Maui's own haute couturier Peter Pee complete with pill box hat. is whacky, but she creates such a truthful, real character we accept it.

 

As matriarch of the Pascals, Jennifer Rose seems to float above it all, oiled by copious amounts of alcohol she has most of the best lines in the show, with a hurricane raging outside and the power out, ruining their thanksgiving dinner she announces i'm going to bed, "no tv or food, what is there to stay up for", when Marty's finacee reports she is from Pennsylvania, Mrs. Pascal asks, "Pennsylvania, is that the state that gets in the way when you are trying to get somewhere else?" Or she sees how big her children are and wonders, "how ever did you fit in my womb?" When Lesly questions her child raising skills she retorts, "people raise cattle, children just happen." When asked by Lesly if Mrs Pascal was spying on she and Anthony she answers,"a mother doesn't spy, a mother pays attention."

 

Making her Maui debut, Patty Lea Sylva puts up with all the insanity of the Pascals and finds that she cannot resist the charms of Anthony, who seduces her so easily, it almost stretches credibility, but Ms MacLeod has set us up to accept whatever happens as normal and so when they have a moment of passion, we don’t question it. When she finds out her fiancee is less than faithful, she sticks around, resisting mother’s various suggestions about ways and means to depart. Ms Sylva is a welcome addition to the Maui theater scene. Her work was present and truthful even given the absurd circumstances.

 

John Williams’ Marty is at first the only sane one of the lot, we think, but then he reveals his own particular, shall we euphemistically refer to them as idiosyncrasies, I don’t want to give any thing away. But the game that they play leaves more questions than answers. Mr. Williams performance was restrained and seldom over the top.

 

The more i see of young Elisha Cullins, who is just a junior at Kihei Charter School the more I like his work. Here is a 17 year old playing an adult in very adult situations, you lucky guy and you’ll have to come and see the show to find out why. Mr Cullins has leading young man potential written all over him. Anthony is a bit of a romantic and his sweet naivete is charming and disarming.

 

Viki Nelson did very nice work on the costumes, particularly, Ms Rose and Ms Pavao.

 

Mr. Oxborrow and Roseox productions have put on a first rate show, that is fully in keeping with the high standards we have come to expect at Pro Arts. I am sure that Jonathan Lehman is smiling as he takes a puff of his cigarette and runs in for the next cue. House of Yes runs until October 30, Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 and Sundays at 3. Go to proartspacific.com for more information. Don’t miss it.

Here is a link to my tribute to Jonathan Lehman  https://vimeo.com/187276035 

 A Macbeth for the Ages

In William Makozak’s Macbeth, the magnificent, power of the Bard's immortal words were fully present, driving him to the pinnacle of performance perfection. Henceforth, this Macbeth stands as the paragon of male acting against which all other performances will be measured. 

By

Paul Janes-Brown

Photos by Jack Grace


Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Hamlet for young men, King Lear is for older men and Macbeth is his middle-aged man play. All of these roles are considered among the best male parts for each of these age groups and to play Macbeth is like climbing Mount Everest. He is one of Shakespeare’s greatest characters, courageous, flawed, human and fighting till the very end. 


The current production of Macbeth directed by David Johnston and produced by Maui Academy of Performing Arts is cinematic, filled with testosterone, stylish and great theater with a capital T. 


From it’s battle torn beginning with its crashing broad swords and Jackie Chan moves, to its exciting conclusion, this Macbeth takes you on a ride you won’t soon forget. 


David Johnston has flexed his all too infrequent directing muscles and done a superb job moving this Macbeth along. The scenes blend seamlessly and confidently into each other as one group of actors exits one way and another is entering.


In live theater, it’s always a problem how to get a dead body off the stage. In this play there are so many. Johnston solves it by having the weird sisters surround the corpse and magically spirit dead bodies away. Brilliant!

Another problem in this play is how to deal with Banquo’s ghost? Johnston again employs the weird sisters to very cleverly call upon the dead friend’s spirit. By using the weird sisters throughout the play, Johnston has imbued this production with magic of the spirits. 


 The acting company is uniformly excellent, but William Makozak, in the role of his life, is a Macbeth for the ages. We see him first as an heroic warrior, 

 and then in the clutches of his lady, the lovely Beth Williams, he is reduced to a doubtful and reluctant murderer. 

His reading of the great soliloquy “if it were done, when tis done…” staged brilliantly as a moment of stop action, plumbs the depths of his misgivings about the regicide he is about to commit. 

 In Makozak’s Macbeth, the magnificent, power of the Bard's immortal words were fully present, driving him to the pinnacle of performance perfection. Henceforth, this Macbeth stands as the paragon of male acting against which all other performances will be measured.

Seldom have two actors had such great chemistry as Makozak and Williams. Their scenes sizzle with sensuality and their dialogue crackles with tension and emotion. 

In the one of two comic relief scenes among the show's 25, Rick Case's Porter, nearly steals the show in a bawdy display of high jinx that the audience loved. 

Another scene-stealer was Noel Overbay Smit as Lady Macduff and the remarkable Wyatt DeShong as Macduff’s young son. Her touching scene telling her son of the death of his father and his questioning of the need to hang traitors was heartbreaking. 

The weird sisters, Kristi Scott, Hoku Pavao Jones and Jett Battoon are having a such great time teasing, torturing and ultimately triumphing over Macbeth that we can’t help but love them even though they are hideous and almost clichéd in their witchieness.

It’s great to see Sharleen Lagattuta back on stage again after a too long absence due to her pregnancy. She is one of our finest young actors and her Hecate once again proved the adage there are no small parts only small actors. She took her few scenes and played them as if the play were Hecate not Macbeth.

 

Daniel Vicars was a fine Banquo, but he really shined as the fight choreographer. This Macbeth is stuffed with clanking broad swords. The final fight between Macbeth and Macduff is so real you find yourself worrying about the well being of the performers. The big battle scenes in the opening and at the conclusion are nerve-shatteringly real. 

 Brian Connolly turns in a well-tempered performance as the wronged Macduff. 


Others in the cast who distinguish themselves are Robert DeVinck appropriately regal as Duncan who returns in the final act with a Just for Men colored beard as Siward, Rick Jones as Duncan’s son Malcolm, Derek Nakagawa as Lennox, in the other comic relief scene, Jefferson Davis’s Ross is a joy every time he opens his mouth. Young Joseph Duncan as Angus shows he knows how to honor the Bard, Gina Duncan's Gentlewoman, and the always excellent Kalani Whitford, who guts Wyatt DeShong with terrifying relish. 

Kai Johnson did a superb job on the lighting design, which is the best I have seen at Steppingstone Playhouse. Caro Walker’s set is perfect, blending the right feel of wildness and magic. And Kathleen Schulz’s costumes contribute to the other-worldly, timelessness of this productions.

Macbeth runs to November 11, for more information visit www.mauiacademy.org. Go and see this production it is great!

 

AMY COMES HOME!

Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom has come home; home literally to Maui, the place of her birth and home artistically to the great American songbook that she loves so much.  It is said that when one does what one loves, one will be good at it. Amy, is so good, she turns that phrase into an understatement.  Dressed in skin tight black spandex pants and matching shiny bolero jacket, her long straight tresses emphasizing her femininity, Amy was the picture of a professional entertainer.

Appearing on Fridays and Saturdays (except the 17th) for the rest of the month at the supper club at Stella Blues in Kihei, the 14 time Na Hoku Hanohano award-winner and 4 Grammy nominee is attacking the standards and reinterpreting them so that they become hers.

Backed by Maui’s finest rhythm section of Sal Godinez on keyboard, Marcus Johnson on Bass and Roscoe Wright on drums Amy performs virtually non-stop for 90 minutes.  Peppering the infrequent pauses with humorous anecdotes, Amy is in super fine voice. She is a powerful vocalist, who has pipes bigger than a cathedral organ. However, when the number called for it, she can croon with the best of them.

She can also get down. In “Since I fell for you,” Amy makes you forget that Dinah Washington originated this song. We’ve all heard “Summertime” from Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess, “ but I’ll bet you never heard it done as a Latin salsa tune?

“Going to a Hukilau” is a song that every tourist as well as local is  familiar with, but Amy does it in Hawaiian, and she tells us, this version was authorized by her grandmother.  Amy’s song stylings are confident, controlled and spell binding. The audience was so mesmerized that throughout the evening Amy had to inquire as to whether they were there. Cabaret singers are not used to rapt attention. Even greats such as Ella Fitzgerald had to suffer through the din of conversation in the places she sang.  It’s rare that a singer creates a concert atmosphere in a such a setting.   

Amy will be doing a live recording and that will be a very special evening. They are working to get an acoustic piano for that gig and Godinez’s breaks, which are always inventive, improvisatory and melodic, shine even brighter when they are played on a real piano. One of my favorite Godinez moments was during “Route 66.” those of you of a certain age, will recognize his clever quote from Nelson Riddle’s theme for television show of the same title with George Maharis, Martin Milner and a Corvette.  

It was a thoroughly inspiring evening; like being whisked away from our little rock to the big apple, but when it was over we were still in paradise. It just doesn't get better than that.

The Stella Blues Supper Club starts with seating for dinner at 6 and the show at 7:30. Reservations are required and this is a real supper club setting. The night I was there the ladies were dressed in island cocktail dresses and I didn’t see a pair of shorts or slippers in the crowd. Call 874-3779 for reservations and go to www.StellaBlues.com for more information.                  

JEach year, Art Maui selects the publicity image for next year’s show. This year they have selected Joelle C. Perz’s marvelous oil and acrylic on carved wood Native Imprint.

Joelle C. Perz was in charge of hanging Art Maui 2010 and she has created an invigorating, spacious and museum quality look. “I’m an artist and it’s like having 145 palettes or pieces to work with,” said Perz.

Pat Masumoto continues to grow and change with every show. Her latest incarnation, Final Brush Stroke features exciting brushwork and a composition that appears spontaneous and improvisational.

Art Maui 2010 has very little in the way of sculpture one of the best is Kim Mosley’s Lean on Me, an arresting alabaster and kiawe wood piece that she said was inspired by a trip to Greece where she saw an ancient figure being unearthed.

Artists traditionally embrace new technology and Jay Wilson pushes the boundaries of digital art with his Bird of Paradise, a work completed on a computer and then hand colored to create a one of a kind original print proof.

Another first timer, Stephanie Farago’s Flirting Surrealists  is a whimsical oil painted ceramic featuring images of Salvador Dali and Carmen Miranda. I suppose one could consider her “surreal.”

Art Maui 2010

By

Paul Janes-Brown

 

            The thirty-second edition of Art Maui, our biggest, most prestigious and anticipated juried art show, is open at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Schaefer International Gallery until April 2. Juror, Ken Bushnell, Professor of Art Emeritus at the University of Hawaii, selected 145 pieces by 125 artists from a total of 565 submitted works.

            In his juror’s statement, Bushnell said that Art Maui is a celebration of Maui’s diverse and vital arts community. He wanted to identify works that go, “beyond technical mastery…” to those that “seem to speak with an authentic voice…always a difficult and imperfect enterprise.”

However difficult and imperfect this enterprise may be, Bushnell has assembled a strong two-dimensional show, which has a refreshing bent toward the abstract. Representational lovers shouldn’t be put off by that, there is plenty here for them to see and enjoy. 

The State Foundation on the Culture and the Arts selected four pieces for their purchase awards; Roots by Crystal Baranyk, Black Dog by Judy Bisgard, Desert Catenary by John Shoemaker, and Pundy's Vision by Sidney Yee. While three of these artists are well-known to the Art Maui community, this is Baranyk’s first foray into the fray. 

In addition to those four works, according to Art Maui chair, Chris Scharein 18 were sold at the annual pledge purchase dinner held the night before the artists’ reception and 8 more have sold since the show opened. The total for this year is about $ 67,000.

Each year, Art Maui selects the publicity image for next year’s show. This year they have selected Joelle C. Perz’s marvelous oil and acrylic on carved wood Native Imprint.

What Babe Ruth was to baseball, Tom Sewell is to art; both regularly and reliably hit home runs. Sewell has created two inspired and exceptional installations. BACH,MONKS, is a mixed media installation with video. Somehow, Sewell and his resident geniuses have figured out a way to project a video image of a face, in this case it’s the face of the actor Stacey Keach, onto a Mannequin so that it looks like Keach is here in a monk’s habit reciting Hamlet and Lear’s soliloquies. The music accompanying the work, Bach, a monk and Shakespeare meet in the water, was composed by Tan Dun and performed by the Kronos Quartet.

Sewell’s other piece is another technological marvel. He and his menehune have taken those digital photo frames and jiggered them so that they play video.  This video is a tribute to Sewell’s late mentor, Dr. William “Rubak” Vitarelli. a man who lived his life to the fullest and sought to contribute to the betterment of human kind over all of his 99 years. Take the time to sit before each of the four screens and listen to all four ten minute segments. This may be the best forty minutes you will ever spend.

It Tom Sewell is the Babe Ruth of artists, then Ditmar Hoerl is Yogi Berra. Hoerl is an artist who always delights in a way one never expects. Only Hoerl could see Sunrise in Flatland by hanging three16 foot pieces of thread an inch and a half from the wall. Stand directly in front of the piece and see the parallel shadows disappear.

In this most tumultuous time, one might expect artists to comment on the war, the economy, joblessness or some other social or economic concern. Perhaps these comments, if there were any, were among the rejected works. Only one artist, the photographer Erin McNally, has chosen a controversial subject. In her photo Torture -Doesn’t Work, McNally presents an ambiguous image of a torture bed and the victims of the killing fields in Pol Pot’s Cambodia in the ‘70s. If she was trying to comment about the torture controversy in the Iraq war, this image is a strange one to do it with.

  More than 10% of Art Maui 2010 is photography. Among the best of these are three newcomers. Jordan Lynn Pigott has been on Maui for all of 8 months, but her haunting image Sleepwalking taken with an old-fashioned 4x5 view camera will stay with the viewer for a long time. It is a perfect photo.

Lee Guthrie has been taking pictures most of her life, but has never shown in Art Maui. Her two black white photos of Mennonite life is like a trip in a time machine.

Jack Grace is another “newbie” to Art Maui. His stunning digital painting of a newly blossomed bird of paradise promises this won’t be his last show.

Another first timer is Ken Kennell, a true master of pointillism, one of the most difficult techniques in painting. Kennell is presenting the first of thirty-three triptych's that he says will illustrate an entire Hula Dance, Kua Loloa Kea'au I Ka Nahelehele, as adapted by Kumu Hula Kapono Kamauno, and is performed by Mahiehie Pokipala.

There is much more to talk about and see in this show, but space limitations will not allow for more discussion. Go and see for yourself. Art Maui 2010 is free and open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, as well as before and during intermission at Castle Theater shows. For more information visit www.artmaui.com.

 

Photo A – 

 

Photo B – Pat Masumoto continues to grow and change with every show. Her latest incarnation, Final Brush Stroke features exciting brushwork and a composition that appears spontaneous and improvisational.

 

Photo C –  

Photo D –  

Photo E –