Ho brah, you wen go see dat dakine Fresher Ahi dis weekend or wat? Some funny da bugga waz. Brah, we neva could stop lafing cuz doz guys play any kine characta. Dey even dress up in wahine kine clothes. Brah, Kathy Collins play one mean MMA guy, he stay all nutz. My mudda dem like go, bumbay we stay heading to QKC, so we can grine Koho’s befoa da show. Come if you like, we stay go buy tickets an den.
This weekend, local theater at the Steppingstone Theater in Kahului will be filled with the colorful language of Hawaiian pidgin. That’s because Fresher Ahi launches the second part of their series of three plays. It was a huge hit last year when Derek Nakagawa and Francis Tau’a, the playwrights and actors behind the show, got into 10 different characters to bring the story of twin brothers Andrew and Anden into the local limelight.
“David Johnston initially approached us with the idea to create a Greater Tuna with local flavor,” says Nakagawa. “More of a straight comedy. We were making a show that had local flavor accessible to local people.”
Nakagawa says part of his motivation was to create a production that could include him.
“There are not a lot of shows for local people to be cast in,” says Nakagawa. “Especially if the director is looking for someone to play a particular character for a script that is set in the East coast.”
Kathy Collins is a new addition to the cast this year. She will play six new characters.
“It just exceeded my expectations,” says Collins. “You just look down to see your costume so you know who you are. There are three incredible dressers that are dressing us instantaneously and seamlessly. You really depend on them.”
Nakagawa, Taua and Collins credit David Johnston, the executive and artistic director for MAPA and Fresher Ahi, for the play’s sharp timing. Collins says that Johnston brought the production one step higher.
“Being true to the spirit of what we did, it’s not formulaic,” says Nakagawa. “David is good at finding the core relationships between the characters. David digs for the reason.”
Also, you don’t have to speak pidgin to enjoy Fresher Ahi. The play’s local culture and themes are easily accessible to locals and visitors alike.
“We are making our own style of what’s been done,” says Nakagawa. “Inspiration from Lee Cataluna, Andy Bumatai, Rep Replinger and Da Braddahs for sure, but these shows even harken back to the roots of theater, Greek theater. Men have always played women back in the day.”
Nakagawa says one of his biggest theatrical rewards is looking into the audience and seeing the big blalah laughing his okole off with his ohana.
“You get used to seeing the same people in the audience,” he says. “There are local folks that have never come to a play that hopefully will come to this one. It feels really good.”
Now through April 28
$16 adults/$14 seniors
$12 students (18 and under)
Fri & Sat, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm
(Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, 2nd level)