Children’s theater shows aren’t just for moms and grandmas. In fact, you should respect the richness and variety of the stories our keiki will be performing this week. This summer, Maui’s young thespians have put their hearts and souls into Beauty and the Beast Jr., Willy Wonka Kids and Mulan Jr.
Beauty and the Beast Jr. is a production by Theatre Theatre Maui (TTM) in West Maui. It comes to life in song this Thursday under the direction of Kristi Scott. TTM will be celebrating its 25th year of nurturing the arts with a full spectrum of hands-on theater experience.
More than a Disney princess story, this tale is about finding friendship in adversity and standing up against bullies. Belle is an outcast, ostracized in her town for being smart, loving books and having an eccentric inventor single parent father. The town bully, Gaston, has set his sights on her, and what’s worse is that he’s rallied a mob. The beast is just your usual angry egocentric young man stuck in his emotions. When the three come together, with talking and dancing utensils and furniture, goodness prevails.
The next show is the result of Maui Onstage’s addition of a keiki summer theater program this year. Their 27 performers, ranging in age from seven to 14, will bring the story of Willy Wonka to life in the Iao Theatre with Alexis Dascoulias directing. Roald Dahl’s tale of an intense and outlandish candy maker on a secret search for a protege is a family favorite that highlights the powers of honesty, gratitude and unpretentiousness.
The villains in the story are spoiled kids who think the world is owed to them, while Wonka teases out their dastardly dispositions in a tour of his factory. As each falls into their own personality traps, Charlie–a kid of modest means who earned a golden ticket fair and square–stands alone. In the end, compassion and humility wins the day.
The last show, Disney’s Mulan Jr., was inspired by an ancient fable. It will be performed by the Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) youth summer musical theater program. It’s co-directed by Kathleen Schulz and Logan Heller with music direction coming from Danielle Mealani Delaunay (who also plays Esmeralda in MAPA’s upcoming production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
This story is about marching for freedom, sacrificing for family and breaking stereotypes and inequality in society. In war-ravaged China during the Han dynasty, every family must send a male to war against the invading Huns. For the Fa family, this is a death sentence for Mulan’s father, who already has war injuries and no male heir. What’s worse, Fa Mulan fails at impressing the omnipotent matchmaker in a patriarchal society that only values the female for marriage.
So Mulan decides to impersonate a man and represent her family in war, even though women are strictly forbidden in the Han army. Will she win her military mates over with her cleverness, or just piss them off? With help from her dragon sidekick Mushu, ghostly ancestors, a frisky cricket and fireworks, Mulan brings honor to her family and her country.
These tales all hold multiple lessons for our keiki, and it’s really fun to see how they adapt them to costumes and music. The kids all put their own modern sensibilities on these stories, and they turn out phenomenal chicken-skin experiences for any theater-goer. The tickets are also affordable, and the props, costumes and make-up are top-notch.
Theatrical storytelling is part of our history–a throwback to a time way before YouTube and Snapchat dominated pop culture. Watching these young actors dedicate a summer to this old but still vibrant art–and do it so well–is heartwarming.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR.
Lahaina Gateway Center, Suite F101.
July 20, 21, 22, 23
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.
13 years to adult are $12; ages 3 to 12 $7; and those age 2 and under may attend free.
Pre-sale tickets are available at Lahaina Music and the box office opens an hour before each show.
WILLY WONKA KIDS
Iao Theater, Wailuku
July 22, 23, 29, 30
Saturdays at 11am; Sundays, 1pm
Adults $10, Youth $6
Call 808-242-696 or book online at Mauionstage.com
A`ali`ikūhonua Creative Arts Center, Seabury Hall, Makawao.
July 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
Fridays at 7pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 7pm, Sundays at 3pm.
Reserved Seats: Adult $15, Youth $12
General Admission: Adult $12, Youth $10
Book online at Mauiacademy.org