In our quick survey of summer theater this year, two musicals are opening in Honolulu. Lysistrata Jones at Mānoa Valley Theatre updates an ancient battle between the sexes, and Mamma Mia orchestrates wedding complications to an Abba soundtrack. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports.
Aristophances’ comedy, Lysistrata, was first staged in 411 BC, it’s the story of how women banded together to end a war. Brad Powell is directing this updated version, Lysistrata Jones, and makes clear it was the Peloponnesian War Aristophanes was talking about.
“The men would go out and fight and then they’d come home only to have sex, and then they’d go out and fight some more. The women got tired of it, and they said, “Uh uh, no more.”
No sexual favors until the war is over was the ultimatum. Lysistrata Jones is a spunky cheerleader who uses the same tactic to get her team to win a game. Did I mention it’s a musical?
Lysistrata Jones asks why people only respond to is anger, fear and resentment? Why can’t people act out of hope? It’s an uphill battle. But Lyssie has the help of a very together madam, played by Buffy Kahalepuna Wong, and spirited fellow cheerleaders who sing and dance up a storm. Lyssie herself, is played by Jody Bill Bachler,
“I do have to be able to shoot a basket, which actually wasn’t too difficult. I did play varsity basketball back in the day!”
Enjoy strong support from the live musicians in Lysistrata Jones at Mānoa Valley Theater through July 24. Performance times: Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm.
Contact MVT at (808) 988-6131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Across town at Diamond Head Theater, Kimee Balmilero is directing Mamma Mia--- she was in the original Broadway cast when Meryl Streep saw it, and said it lifted her spirits after 9/11.
“Cool to see that she was so connected to the show that she ended up doing the movie version of it.”
If you’ve seen the movie, expect more from the live version. Balmilero says, it’s the energy in the room.
“You can’t help but feel that, and the audience will see. They’ll be on their feet, so get your dancing shoes ready because you’ll be up and dancing with all of us by the end.”
Mark Kanemura, local product, is lead dancer with Lady Gaga since 2009, you’ve seen him do pretty amazing things on TV dance shows, too. Kanemura is choreographing DHT’s Mamma Mia.
“I thought a lot about how I wanted the performers, the actors, the dancers, how I wanted them to feel. And in turn, I was also thinking a lot about how I wanted the audience to feel. What I kind of came to was that I really wanted my performers to feel like rock stars, really working on that and bringing out their inner rock star. In turn what I hope is that people will leave the production feeling like rock stars themselves, and feeling like they want to get up and dance!”
Imagine a wedding, where the bride has invited all three men who could possibly be her dad. Narrowing to the all-important one, is complicated by a free spirited mater.
“There’s Dancing Queen, there’s Chicatita, and there’s Mamma Mia, it is a good time, but there are some really lovely moments in there that are about human connection, lost love, found love, finding yourself.”
When 100 people turned up for auditions, Balmilero says casting this production was the hardest part. She says they saw many good singers and dancers but they were looking for people with individuality, people who were not afraid to let go.
“We love our cast to death. We’re so emotional with them, we’ve been crying like crazy, tears of joy, tears of just feeling their storytelling. It’s been wonderful.”
Mamma Mia is the ne plus ultra for Abba fans. Just try to forget this.
Friday, July 15 - 8:00PM
Saturday, July 16 - 8:00PM
Sunday, July 17 - 8:00PM
Thursday, July 21 - 8:00PM
Friday, July 22 - 8:00PM
Saturday, July 23 - 3:00PM
Saturday, July 23 - 8:00PM
Sunday, July 24- 4:00PM
Thursday, July 28 - 8:00PM
Friday, July 29 - 8:00PM
Saturday, July 30 - 3:00PM
Saturday, July 30 - 8:00PM
Sunday, July 31 - 4:00PM
Thursday, August 4 -7:30PM
Friday, August 5 - 7:30PM
Saturday, August 6 -3:00PM
Saturday, August 6 - 8:00PM
Sunday, August 7- 4:00PM
Thursday, August 11- 7:30PM
Friday, August 12 - 7:30PM
Saturday, August 13 - 3:00PM
Saturday, August 13 - 8:00PM
Sunday, August 14 - 4:00PM