Alice Drops Into Mamiya

When it comes to casting a play at Sacred Hearts, Mamiya Theatre manager Kyle Kakuno recruits boys from any number of private and public schools to join the female students. One hundred youths turned up for this season’s Alice in Wonderland auditions, and Kakuno, who directs the Sacred Hearts and Saint Louis school drama programs, managed to whittle it down to a cast of about 40 students in grades 5 to 12. This is the Disney version and it’s packed with songs.


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Sacred Hearts Academy seventh-grader Kira Stone as Alice surrounded by Rhansen Mars as Mad Hatter, Brian Regala as Cheshire Cat and Aaron Brockert as White Rabbit. Photo courtesy of Sacred Hearts Academy

“The students all had to be able to sing first, and then we have them move,” says Kakuno. “Kira Stone (Alice, a Sacred Hearts seventh-grader) caught our eye immediately when she auditioned. She had the look for it and the voice. Then we found out that she dances and comes from a theatrical background, and that made us comfortable casting her in the title role.

“She has not disappointed, she’s as advertised. She makes the director look good.”

Apparently no one has told Stone that one of the world’s top phobias is public speaking, because this young actor not only can sing, dance and act, but she can conduct an interview like nobody’s business. And rather than expressing nervousness, her most-anticipated part of the whole acting experience is, well … let her tell you:

“I really like rehearsals, but the most fun part is doing the show for an audience for the first time.”

Even seasoned actors get the heebie-jeebies on opening night. But, says Stone, when you finally have an audience, you finally “know when they’re going to laugh and when they’re going to clap. And what they think of you.”

Stone’s voice lessons come from coach to the stars Neva Rego. She’s been taking ballet from the age of 3 and tap and jazz with Diamond Head Theatre’s Shooting Stars program. And she’s been performing from the age of 7, holding her own in shows that include Gypsy and Annie at DHT. She has every plan to appear on Broadway someday. Keep an eye out, because she’s serious and going places.

Other stand-out cast members include Kaiser High’s Rhansen Mars as Mad Hatter and Saint Louis’ Aaron Brockert as White Rabbit. Colorful favorites such as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Caterpillar and King and Queen of Hearts will also appear, and this production is tackling use of a green screen so that characters will interact with a video backdrop. Expect some high-tech interaction with the Cheshire Cat, among others.

“We come from a traditional theatrical background, so the video screen presents a different set of surprises for the audience, but also issues with lighting and trying not to cast shadows,” says Kakuno, who has welcomed the challenge as an experimental foray for the team.

Speaking of tradition, Kakuno said he read the classic Alice story for first time and found it, “imaginative, provocative and profound. We took those elements and tried to infuse them into the production.”

Meanwhile, says Stone, “People might be expecting a middle school production, but this (has all of the elements of) a professional production. We have green screen, we have sets, we have talented people. The audience is going to walk away happy.”

the TICKET stub

When: Nove. 7-17
Where: Mamiya Theatre
Cost: $15-$20


With Hawaii Watercolor Society’s Signature Show on exhibit Nov. 20 to Jan. 3 at a private home (148 Kuupua St.), open to

the public Tuesday through Saturday, 2 to 5:30 p.m. (262-9626), society president Patrice Federspiel offers insight to the core group of 22 of its 39 signature members – out of 260 active members – being featured in the show:

How does one become a signature member? To apply for signature membership in HWS, one must have been a member in good standing for one year and have had paintings accepted in two HWS juried shows (accumulating a certain number of points). It can take years to achieve signature status, depending upon how often one paints, enters exhibits and wins awards.

How many pieces of work will be on display? Each signature member is allowed to bring two paintings to be curated into the show. I estimate 40 paintings will be hung. Jurors will award prizes to the top three paintings.

What can viewers expect? Expect to see beautiful color, rich color, soft color, striking color, some traditional subjects, some unexpected. Some of our signature members are well-known artists in the community. We might see more of what we’ve come to expect from them, or they might surprise us. Watercolor is a medium that invites experimentation. It’s the unknowns that make watercolor such an exciting medium.

There are as many ways to paint with water-color as there are people. It is an easy medium in which to learn the basics, and it can take a lifetime to master different techniques. It’s easy to get started. You can be messy or neat while painting. You can paint indoors or out, in five minutes or for hours at a time. Clean up is easy.

The elements of mystery and surprise are always present in water-color. When you push boundaries, as I hope some of our signature members are continuing to do, the element of surprise is heightened.