Disney does fairy tales better than anyone else. There might be an exception here and there, but I always envision a Disney image when I think classic fairy tales. "Sleeping Beauty" was in many ways the last true Walt Disney movie. It was the last project he oversaw and the last Disney film that was hand inked and hand drawn by a massive team of artists one cell at a time. Local children's theater production companies can affordably purchase stage versions complete with recorded music tracks right from this source. Theater in a box, stamped with the Disney trademark. That 1959 Disney version was based on the tale, "La Belle au bois Dormant," by Charles Perrault with a musical score and songs adapted from the 1890 ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
If you can't quite remember how the story goes, an older childless King and Queen are blessed with a miracle daughter, Aurora. Three good fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, have come to bless the princess. Flora, gives the gift of beauty and Fauna, gives the gift of song. But wouldn't you just know it, mere moments before Merryweather is able to give a blessing, a wicked fairy named Maleficent appears and curses the princess. Maleficent proclaims that before the sun sets on Aurora's 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. Luckily, Merryweather is able to use her blessing to weaken the curse, so now instead of death, Aurora will simply fall asleep until she is awakened by true love's kiss. For her protection, the fairies whisk Aurora away with them to a cottage in the forest until her 16th birthday passes.
Sure enough, Aurora, now renamed Briar Rose, reaches her 16th birthday with no problems and the three fairies ask her to go gather berries in the forest so they can prepare a surprise party for her. What's the worst thing that could happen? Of course, everything that could go wrong does, including the sudden appearance of a spinning wheel. Thank goodness, a Prince came along that fell in love with "Briar Rose." There's also a dragon battle and the usual family squabbles between Kings and Queens, but true love conquers all and, of course, there's the all important kiss and they also all live "happily ever after."
Prince Phillip, played by Gabriel Elftman-Hanson (right), prepares to break the evil spell on Princess Aurora (Ashley Pokorski) with true love’s kiss in MAPA’s production of “Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Kids,” running tonight through Sunday at Steppingstone Playhouse in Kahului.
DAVID HESSEMER photo
I met with co-director of the upcoming MAPA production last week and she shared her philosophy regarding children's theater. "Working with 31 children between the ages of 7 and 12 has been the most exhausting and exhilarating experience of my entire life. Children's theater makes an impact on these young lives. They gain a better sense of themselves, the discipline raises their achievement level and improves self image," said Kathleen Schulz. Kathleen teams with Ricky Pavao Jones as a co-director allowing Schulz to serve as choreographer and costumer as well. Kirsten Otterson serves as musical director, Amy Lord is the set designer with Pavao Jones on double duty as stage manager. "The kids get one hour of music, one hour of dance and one hour of acting. They're all pieces of a puzzle. No big puzzle piece is more important. If a piece isn't there, regardless of size, the picture becomes unclear."
I asked her about the ready-made Disney productions. "The script and recorded music make the job clear, but that doesn't make it easy. As a director you still have to block the scenes and decide how to present the production. I like to let the kids make some of the choices by asking them what they see. These Disney shows are intended to be by kids for kids." I asked, "how you make true love play with little ones?" Schulz relayed a casting story. "We had these two 10 year olds (Ashley Porkorsy and Gabriel Elfman Hansen) that had great auditions. I asked them to waltz together and they did! Very serious but very good. Then Ricky said 'now look like you're in love.' It was so sweet, there's something about their innocence that just works." The weekend production will conclude MAPA's summer camps and with that, fall classes are just around the corner. "We use theater to teach life lessons and that is much more important than a show."
* "Disney's Sleeping Beauty Kids," directed by Kathleen Schulz, opens tonight at the Steppingstone Playhouse. Performances Thursday and Friday are at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.. Tickets are $12 adults, and $8 students 12 and younger. For reservations, call 244-8760 or purchase tickets at the customer service kiosk at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. For more information about MAPA Fall classes, visit mauiacademy.org.
Also this week
Don't miss the final weekend of Mel Brooks' "The Producers," which continues though Sunday. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. All-new reserved seating tickets are $15 to $28. Dinner packages are available with Bistro Casanova, Wailuku Coffee Company and Cafe O'Lei at the Dunes. For tickets or more information, call 242-6969 or purchase online at mauionstage.com.
Maui Slam Poetry returns tonight at Casanova Italian Restaurant in Makawao with Maui Slam Pajama Jam.
Get cozy with poetry, pajamas, pillow fights and pizza. Poets must sign up by 9:45 to compete for the $100 cash prize. This is a "no-rules" slam, but extra points will be awarded for wearing pajamas. Old-school turntable dance party to follow by Boomshot and JayP, sensual vintage visuals by Douglas Deboer, lip-sync contest led by Kit Kat Club Cabaret and late-night, two-for-one pizza until 11 p.m. Tickets available at the door. Cost is $10 and ONLY $5 if you're wearing your PJs.
Augie T's "Summer of LOL" comes to the McCoy Theater at the MACC, Saturday. Special guest Brad Starks, who is a stand-up comic and impressionist. to open. The performance is at 7:30 p.m., tickets $20 general, $35 premium with a special post show meet and greet included. To purchase tickets visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
Maui OnStage will be holding auditions for the comedy "Run for Your Wife," by Ray Cooney and directed by Dale Button, Tuesday, July 31 at the Historic Iao Theater. Actors should prepare a 2 minute comic monologue and bring a current head shot and resume. Auditions are by appointment only and can be made by calling 244-8680. Callbacks will be held on Wednesday, August 1. Rehearsals will begin mid August with performances Fridays through Sundays October 5 through 14. For more information visit mauionstage.com.
The Maui Academy of Performing Arts will be holding open auditions for Shakespeare's tragedy "Macbeth," Thursday, August 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday August 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the MAPA studios in Wailuku. MAPA Executive and Artistic Director David C. Johnston will direct. Rehearsals begin in late August. The show will be performed at the Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center October 26 through November 11, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.. Auditioning is open to performers age 18 and up. Please prepare a short Shakespearian monologue or sonnet two minutes or less. To schedule a ten minute audition slot, please contact MAPA Production Coordinator Tina Kailiponi at mauiacademy.org or call 244-8760.