“The Play’s The Thing” Opens in Kihei
By Vanessa Wolf
Tomorrow, Feb. 14, “The Play’s the Thing” opens at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei.
Written by Ferenc Molnar (Liliom) and adapted by P.G. Wodehouse (Jeeves), this romantic farce is set in the mid 1920s.
The plot may require a couple read-throughs, but here goes:
“Playwrights Turai and Mansky and their young protégé, composer Albert Adam, have arrived unannounced at a castle on the Italian Riviera to surprise their diva and Albert’s fiancé, Ilona Szabo. However, unbeknownst to them, Ilona’s former lover and mentor, a pompous actor named Almady, has intruded on her stay there. The trio overhear Ilona and Almady in a compromising moment. Their operetta may be lost as the distraught Albert is ready to tear up his music. In order to save their operetta, Turai will induce Ilona and Almady to pretend that when they were overheard they were actually rehearsing a play. However, in order to accomplish his goal, Turai must first write a play which includes the foolish words of their own creation.”
The Maui show is produced and directed by Jonathan Lehman and we spoke to him about the upcoming production.
Maui Now: The first show of ProArts 2014 Spring Season opens this Friday with “The Play’s the Thing.” What moved you to choose this piece?
Jonathan Lehman: This is a show that I acted in 1981 in the San Francisco Bay Area. I played the young composer when I was a trim 145 lbs. and much more handsome. That was my first contact with the piece.
ProArts was actually looking to do a show in this time slot with a cast made up of mostly women, since a lot of the male talent pool was involved in the other shows opening this month. It worked out for us though, as we had the men and one woman to fill the roles. We didn’t hold auditions this time, but were able to put together a stellar cast.
MN: The play is set in a castle in the Italian Riviera during the 1920s: how difficult is building a set like this?
JL: We always have to choose shows with a basic unit set – so it’s not too difficult to build – and we employ a master carpenter. However, sometimes it can be challenging to make sure all the sightlines in our intimate space at the Playhouse are covered. Finding authentic-looking furniture and decorating is probably the most difficult part. We were able to find some nice pieces for this show. I think we’ve pulled it off!
MN: When casting on Maui do you find you have too much talent to choose from, a desire for more people to get involved, or ???
JL: We have a great talent pool on Maui, but there is a lot of choice provided by other performing groups. We try to involve as many people as possible, recruiting new actors all the time. This show just happens to feature seven ProArts alumni. We’re involving a lot of new faces in our Maui Improv workshops. Hopefully some of those actors will cross over into our regular scripted shows soon.
MN: ProArts is your endeavor, but you often graciously pass the directing torch to others. Beyond having acted in the play in your past, what inspired you to want to direct “The Play’s the Thing”?
JL: For starters, as you pointed out, I know it well. We have a very short rehearsal schedule for our shows; just four weeks usually. I knew what it should look like and how it should be played so I took the director’s job. Our regular directors were either taking a break or involved in another show, so it worked out fine. I had just directed “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and I was ready to do something completely different.
MN: What’s the number one thing Maui audiences need to know such that they’ll be unable to pass up the chance to see this show?
JL: You can’t miss this show because it features some of the best talent on the island. All star: Dale Button, Vinnie Linares, Jennifer Rose, Scott Newman, Dylan Bode, John Peterson and Lee Garrow. It’s farcical, fanciful, fruity, frivolous fun! Also, ProArts is the only theatre company in Kihei, and if you haven’t seen one of our shows, it’s time.
It plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. (although there is no show on 2/16.)
Tickets are $22 and kama’āina nights – with discounts for Hawaii residents – are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, and Thursdays, Feb. 20 and 27.
ProArts Playhouse is located at the Azeka (Makai) Shopping Center, 1280 S. Kihei Rd. in Kihei.
Call 808-463-6550 for tickets or more information.