I’ve always been a fan of community theater, though from a distance. I’m an expert in entertainment on Maui, but when it came to writing about productions in theater, I felt like I was missing something. So for my recent dinner and show outing to see Maui Onstage’s The Producers–Mel Brooks’ famous play about a theater company who decides that it can make more money with a flop than a hit–I decided to bring along my friend Angie Thompson, who has a long community theater resume, and secretly gauge her reactions and pick her brain about the theater.
Maui Onstage has organized neat dinner packages to upgrade your night out at the Iao Theater in Wailuku. You can choose dinner from Bistro Casanova, Cafe O’Lei and Wailuku Coffee Company. Each spot has prix fixe menu items, and its all paid for in your theater ticket. It really made it smooth and easy.
Thompson and I met at Bistro Casanova. The reservation was set for 5:30pm so you have time to enjoy your food before the 7:30pm show. Plus it’s still happy hour, and their carafes of mojitos and margaritas are just $5. We hit the margarita racket and then I asked my first question.
“Why do companies like Maui Onstage put on so many musicals?”
“They’re crowd-pleasers,” she said. “People love to hear the musicals. It’s lively.”
I never thought of that, but had always felt that drama was a theater company’s first choice for shows. No, said Thompson: a few too many serious dramas and small audiences can crash and thrash a community theater group.
In any case, the Bistro Casanova dinner was great. Her linguini with chicken and mushrooms and my angel hair and shrimp–to say nothing of the margaritas–were a perfect start to the evening. We paid for our drinks and tipped the waitress (drinks and tip aren’t included in the ticket price) and set off for Market Street.
The buzz at the box office was boisterous when we arrived. Maui Onstage has a new seat reservation system in which you can choose your seats online or over the phone when you purchase tickets. It was very smooth. I also saw a friend with a group that just did the Wailuku Coffee Company dinner and they said it was perfect–plus, they got to bring their own wine.
A few minutes later, we were seated and Maui Onstage Executive Director Alexis Dascoulias took the stage. Her cute, bookish looks downplayed the anticipated theatrics. “Mel Brooks was an equal opportunity offender,” she said. “If you are not offended, please come see me after the show.”
The opening number’s costumes, choreography and sound were incredible and that excitement carried through the show. Dascoulias says that all their musicals feature a live orchestra, and the entire 32-member (volunteer!) cast has been working on the show since May.
“The audiences have loved the show,” Dascoulias later said. “As they are leaving most of them say, ‘Funniest play I’ve ever seen,’ ‘Wow, you’ve really outdone yourselves–again’ and ‘We laughed so hard we cried.’ It has been a success, and the cast is loving the energy from the audience.”
This weekend will be your last chance to see The Producers. For more in depth info on the show and cast, you can check out Michael Pulliam’s Maui News article on the premiere here.