A Trove of Talent in Mililani
I leave my workaday world on Ala Moana Boulevard and glide along H1 toward H2, heading into Mililani, when I realize I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in the central Oahu neighborhood. For this townie, that highway stretch sets me in vacation mode. As I pull into Mililani High School and enter the cafeteria, I feel I’ve journeyed a couple decades back to my own high school days. Pure youthful energy is spattered across the room.
Students are arranging giant wooden boxes on the stage, others are on the floor sending up a diffusion of sterile-fresh vapors as they dip their brushes in buckets of paint. Back there, some are arranging costumes, and others are sprawled across desks working at their homework as they wait for play practice to begin, while one huddled gathering sends up a chorus of voices that echo through the room, oblivious to the cacophonous hammering of a nearby drill.
All the action and excitement is in preparation for the school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie.
“It’s a very light, fun show,” says director Jamie Stroud. “It’s a satire on Elvis going into the Army. So we have a big heartthrob with all of the girls screaming.”
To set off that generational distinction between the teen fans and adults, Stroud decided it would be pertinent to have real adults in the show. The auditions netted several teachers and parents – a first for the high school’s Central Theatre Arts Academy – to join the cast of about 45, from third grade and beyond. As a performing arts learning center – like Castle, Kaimuki and Nanakuli – the productions welcome public school students of all ages.
“The production is fantastic,” gushes parent Chris Bayot, who will appear in the show and whose son Daniel has a lead role as agent Albert
Peterson. “Bye Bye Birdie is such an upbeat and vibrant musical, with excellent numbers. The talent among the kids is just unbelievable.”
Daniel, a junior, is clearly comfortable and in his element in his fourth production with CTAA, and his love interest Sidney Fowler as Rose Alvarez is markedly beautiful, with a voice to match.
“Everything you see on the stage was built from scratch by the kids,” adds Mom.
“Jamie is the director and she has the vision, but she puts this in the hands of the kids. They do the lighting, costuming, sound, hair and makeup, they’re in the back at the sewing machines.”
“I was on the set design team,” says Daniel. “We researched ’60s art to get inspiration from the time.
“I don’t wanna talk stink or anything,” he adds, “but I’m a little biased toward CTAA. We live up to the expectations of local community theater. We’ve been working with limited resources. We don’t have an auditorium, we’re in a cafeteria and the cast is mostly students, but we have a world-class director and a world-class choreographer. They bring it to such a professional level.”
the TICKET stub
When: April 27, 28 and May 4 at 7:30 p.m., and April 29 and May 5 at 2 p.m.
Where: Mililani High School, 95-1200 Meheula Pkwy.
Cost: $5 students, $10 adults
More Info: showtix4u.com or 627-4356
Of Magic and Bewitchment
A medieval-looking, stone-wrought edifice, the building that houses Mid-Pac’s theater, seems made for its latest production: East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It’s a world inhabited by trolls and gargoyles, curses, love, spirits and enchantment. Like a magical dream, our protagonist, played by Sarah Stoker, drifts through fantastical settings, meeting exotic creatures who hinder or help her journey.
“Many of these students I had since sixth grade, and all through those years we work a little bit with puppetry so when they get into high school, they have a certain knowledge and ability and I can put them together to work on projects like this,” says director CoCo Wiel, who makes extensive use of expertly crafted papier mâché creations and masks. The production itself features the talents of just under 30 high school students.
“This is a traditional story from Norway, and the overall theme is a druid look,” says Wiel. “The trolls have no taste in clothing, they’re ugly and funny-looking. The mythical characters, the spirits, are much more flowing.
“What I liked about this story is it has a natural female heroine. She makes a fatal flaw, a mistake, and she’s able to correct it in the end. The audience can look forward to an adventure.”
She’s right. As I watch the characters gliding across the stage, I’m a child again, waiting for mom to tuck me in and turn off the lights so I can snuggle under my covers with a flashlight and dive into my fairy tale books. Wiel’s tale takes you to a hypnotic, enthralling realm. It plays April 27-May 6 ($5 for students, seniors and military; $10 general). Call 973-5066 for more information.