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Entertainment // Art & Stage
Rasa Fournier

QUIRKY and CAPTIVATING

Jennifer Clayton and Andrew Lum in ‘Sound and Beauty’ Photo by Or rin Nakanelua

Kumu Kahua Theatre has done it again. Sound and Beauty (through June 30, 536-4441, kumukahua.org) is another brilliantly acted, spellbinding show that leaves you thinking … and thinking … and thinking. A few of the shows in theaters right now are odd but rewarding. We’ll begin with Sound and Beauty, a mysterious, marvelous, eclectic little offering. It consists of two one-act plays by David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly): The Sound of a Voice and The House of Sleeping Beauties.

In Sound, the setting is simple. A woman in a kimono and a man in samurai regalia share a formal introduction. However, that meeting launches them on a journey through an array of emotions. He’s a wandering traveler and she a lone woman in a remote cottage. Jennifer Clayton draws in the audience, as she draws in her visitor, Andrew Lum, with her demure gestures, expressive eyes, her strange reactions. She’s eager to please, and Lum is conflicted as he begins succumbing to her charms, though desperate to resist. A spectacular vision halfway through gives the entire concept depth and a haunting quality you won’t soon forget.

Both plays exist on the line crossing into the spirit realm, in a bubble of their own dimension. Kumu Kahua settings have a way of surprising their audiences with a simple set eventually revealing itself as something much richer. A man visits a brothel in the second offering. As enticing as that may sound, this is an older man (Dann Seki) interacting with an elderly madame (Denise Aiko Chinen) and all else takes place on the platform of intellect-sparked dialogue, suggestion and silhouette. Both plays are about relationships, their inherent vicissitudes and tenuous negotiations, and the taut line between being in control and losing control. This is the Hawaii premiere of Sound and Beauty, which first was performed off Broadway in 1983. It’s equally intriguing today.

Diamond Head Theatre’s The Goodbye Girl (through June 9, 733-0274, diamond-headtheatre.com) is titled after lead character Paula (Tricia Marciel), who’s had one too many guys pick up their suitcases and walk out. Through a turn of events, she and her daughter (Stephanie Zaharis) end up reluctantly sharing their New York apartment with an aspiring actor (Pedro Armando Haro). He’s fresh and friendly, she’s uptight and cynical. The show is a Neil Simon musical, so we know they’ll eventually discover a spark for each other, and when they do, it’s celebratory and heartwarming, particularly because everything that transpires in between is a bit awkward. He’s on the silly side, certainly not heartthrob material. She resents the intruder in her house, men in general, perhaps the whole world. There’s no chemistry between them – at all. And then suddenly there is. Zaharis, as the disillusioned daughter, holds her own onstage and has winning moments with all the lead characters.

Finally, we have an ambitious production by Children’s Theatre of Oahu with a cast of 92 youths ages 6 to 18. It’s Robin Hood the musical, which will play at Paliku Theatre on the Windward Community College campus (through June 8, 291-5442, ctotheatre.com). The sheer number of children onstage, dancing and lighting into song, will be appealing to a young audience. A charismatic duo in the form of 15-year-old Koa San Luis as Robin Hood and 16-year-old Annalise Arnold as Marian lead the show. Of course, Robin Hood has a villain, supplied by 15-year-old Luke Ott as Sheriff. Half of the cast hails from the Windward area, including the three leads, and the rest come from every corner of the island.

With the incorporation of hit songs you’ve heard before (can’t list them, they’re a surprise), this isn’t the traditional telling of the story.

“When writing a show for children’s theater, it’s important to remember who you’re writing for,” notes CTO writer Jacob Akemann. “Our audience has a huge imagination, and they’ll be able to completely absorb themselves in the story and the world we give them. We need to give them a world that’s exciting, a world they can take with them when they leave the theater, surprises they are not expecting and, most important, characters they can identify with. While in the original story there’s a handful of good characters for boys, there’s only one real role model for girls, so we added a few girl characters to change that. You’ll see both damsels in distress and working girls not afraid of getting their hands dirty. An important message of our show is that no particular type of character is better. It doesn’t matter if you were born upper class, lower class, girl or boy. If you’re true to yourself and you help others when they are in need, everything will turn out all right in the end.”

All three venues, in very different ways, deliver entertainment that’s outside of the ordinary and pulls you right in.

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