Kailua Onstage Arts celebrates an amazing first year by upping the ante for Year 2! We'll be bringing you 8, count 'em, 8 full productions, plus a slate of readings and Dark Night shows. Check out the season and subscribe!
Don't miss the hilarious and exhilarating show everyone is talking about!
John Wesley Powell: Keyana Frost
William Dunn: Bailey Barnes
John Cotton Sumner: La Tanya Faamausili-Siliato
Old Shady: Aiko Chinen
Bradley: Evelyn Errico-Huttler
O.G. Howland / Tsawiat: Kahana Ho
Seneca Howland / The Bishop: Juvy Lucina
Frank Goodman / Mr. Asa: Courtney Booth
Hall: Leigh Sholler
Hawkins: Ruby O'Malley
Adventure, bravery and humorous absurdity…led by an all-female cast, Men on Boats is the true-ish story of John Wesley Powell’s expedition of the Colorado River in 1869. Guided by a one-armed captain, the outlandish but loyal crew encounters various disasters, conflicts and harrowing adventures along the way. Spinning historical, theatrical, and gender conventions on their heads, this subversive tale of ten men, four boats, and two rivers contains none of the above.
Performance schedule January 17-Feb 2, 2020. Performances are Friday/Saturday nights at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 4:00 pm at Kailua Onstage Arts, 171 Hamakua Dr in Kailua
"A reminder of how fun and exhilarating it is to see the world through the power of our imagination"
MEN ON BOATS- Fili Auro
It was great to see familiar faces at opening night in a revamped Kailua Onstage Arts theatre with a larger stage, rearranged seating, and brand-spankin' new lighting, not to mention the excellent old skool rock music that permeated throughout the show's transitions and intermissions. Speaking of old skool, the play runs in 3 acts of roughly 40mins each with 2 ten-minute breaks in between and moves fast. Simplicity and imagination are at the core of the show and reflected in its aesthetic of rugged colorful canyons, minimum props, and the buoyant varied personalites of these "Men on Boats."
An all-female cast portraying the male explorers of the Powell Geographic Expedition of 1869, Ana Frost and Bailey Barnes kick off the show as John Wesley Powell and William Dunn respectively, with both Frost and Barnes able to convey solid leadership qualities throughout, one rigid, the other compassionate. Latanya Fa'amausili-Siliato's John Colton Sumner is the strong silent type, and delivers some of the best lines of the show whenever she speaks; that shotgun scene had the audience dying (not literally). Kahana Ho and Juvy Lucina play dual roles as the Howland brothers as well as Native Americans Tsauwiat and The Bishop respectively, and while Ho's tobacco cover-up bit and ghosts vs spirits convo as O.G. is a delight to watch, both Ho and Lucina truly shine in their second roles as stoned hippy natives. Courtney Booth wrecks the role of Englishman Frank Goodman and the pantomimed capsizing scene was uproariously well-done; her brief absence is felt in the latter part of the show which is a testament to her strong stage presence. Evelyn Errico-Huttler's George Young Bradley brings an unassuming, upbeat energy and Ruby O'Malley's William Robert Hawkins is out here smiting snakes, taking names, and sippin' coffee, all in a day's work of a rugged fearless explorer 🐍🐸☕. Rounding out the cast is the lively Leigh Sholler as Andrew Hall and Aiko Chinen as the hilarious Old Shady singin' songs and makin' like a tree that doesn't leave 🌳.
With all the great productions these days, it's refreshing to see one go back to the basics, using little to no props and all imagination. The amazing actresses on stage literally take the audience for a ride through the dangerous rapids and waterfalls, campfire shenanigans, and insightful commentary of the Powell expedition, tapping into the adventurer spirit within us all, a reminder of how fun and exhilirating it is to see the world through the power of our imagination. Best Ensemble contender no doubt. Only 6 more shows left! Congrats to the cast and crew of "Men on Boats" running til January 26th!
"tightly choreographed cast make KOA’s “Men on Boats” a thrilling evening."
WOMEN RIDE ‘EM IN KOA’S “MEN ON BOATS” - John Berger
Director Kevin Keaveney celebrated with cast member Bailey Barnes after the second-night performance of the Kailua Onstage Arts production of Punjabi-American playwright Jaclyn Backhaus’ gender-bending historical drama, “Men on Boats,” January 18 at the KOA Theater in Kailua – the gender-bender aspect being that all the characters are 19th Century Caucasian males but playwright Backhaus requires that all the actors all be females, or, at least, people who choose to define themselves as female, and encourages the casting of non-Caucasian actors.
Fortunately for Hawaii, Backhaus doesn’t require that the director also define themselves as female. Keaveney does an excellent job directing and makes inspired choices as the set and sound designer as well.
Furthermore – gender issues aside – Keaveney and his tightly choreographed cast make KOA’s “Men on Boats” a thrilling evening.
Ana Frost stars as Major John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Civil War veteran who was selected to lead the first US government-authorized exploration of the Green and Colorado rivers and what was intended to be the first documented passage of white men through the entire length of the Grand Canyon. Frost takes command of the show as soon as she arrives on stage and is a convincing leader throughout the two-hour journey that follows.
Frost’s scenes with Barnes (William Dunn, a hunter and trapper from Colorado) suggest that Dunn is either a second-in-command or someone Powell feels he can confide in. Either way, Frost and Barnes have several great dramatic scenes together that spotlight their depth as actors.
The other members of Keaveney’s talented ensemble cast are:
• Courtney Booth (Frank Goodman, English adventurer and skilled boat handler).
• Aiko Chinen (Walter Henry “Old Shady” Powell, US Army captain and Powell’s brother).
• Evelyn Errico-Huttler (George Young Bradley, US soldier who joined the expedition in exchange for Powell arranging his discharge from the service).
• La Tanya Faamusili-Siliato (John Colton Sumner, professional guide and outfitter)
• Kahana Ho (Oramel G. “O.G.” Howland, printer, editor and hunter).
• Juvy Lucina (Seneca Howland, a mountain man and Oramel’s brother).
• Ruby O’Malley (William Robert Hawkins, a mountain man, possibly a fugitive, and the expedition’s cook).
• Leigh Sholler (Andrew Hall, 19-year-old mule driver with skills as an oarsman).
Each actor gets the time she deserves to develop her character as the three-act production plays out.
Ho and Lucina also double as a pair of very very bizarre native-Americans. Whether the bizarre characterizations are the playwright’s idea, Keaveney’s decision as a director, or something the actors came up with, the results are very very bizarre.
On the other hand, Keaveney and his talented actors do excellent work choreographing the expedition’s journey through the rocks, the rapids, the whirlpools and the waterfalls they encounter.
KOA’s “Men on Boats” is a gripping and suspenseful experience even for if you already the men’s fate.
To put the show in broader context, KOA’s production comes at a time when the entertainment industry has been hit with demands that characters must be played by actors that match their identifying characteristics — a transgender African-American Hispanic Buddhist character must be played by a transgender African-American Hispanic Buddhist actor, and so on. Heaven forbid that a one-armed white male be played by an African-American woman whose arms are both intact!
KOA’s “Men on Boats” shows that talented actors can do excellent theater without kowtowing to demands for politically correct “check all the boxes” casting.
Notables in the house for the second-night performance included Jim K. Aina, Mathias Maas and Therese Olival, who open in Manoa Valley Theatre’s production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” on January 23, multi-talented Garrett Hols, attorney/actor Ron Heller, and Nicole Tessier (who seems to be everywhere theater is happening)
"vivid brush strokes of wonderment"
MEN ON BOATS - Allan Okubo
Think Marx Brothers! Think unbelievable becoming believable! Think the impossible becoming possible! Think…Men on Boats…now playing at Kailua Onstage Arts (KOA), written by Jaclyn Backhaus and directed by Kevin Keaveney.
Ten men, played by women, in the 1800’s seeking to chart the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in four small boats. The trials and tribulations they encounter and the personal turmoil they endure makes for grand theatre, but the method in doing so must be seen to be appreciated. The actors propel the show and your imagination is the vehicle it drives. And drive it, it does. Transversing the rapids in small boats, killing a snake with a coffee pot, catching fish in a burlap sack, viewing the great walls of the Grand Canyon, takes a lot of imagination by the audience unless the actors create vivid brush strokes of wonderment and paint a grand portrait of the dangers and excitement of such an exploration.
Ten wonderful actors, Ana Frost, Bailey Barnes, La Tanya Faamusili-Siliato, Kahana Ho, Juvy Lucina, Courtney Booth, Evelyn Errico-Huttler, Aiko Chinen, Ruby O’Malley and Leigh Sholler, take you on a ride down the rapids complete with wipe outs and near drownings.
Do not miss MEN ON BOATS because entertainment such as this is hard to find and even harder to create. Call 829-8606 or go to: kailuaonstagearts.com for tickets. And bring Dramamine if you get seasick!
“…off-the-canyon-walls funny…” —Variety. “[MEN ON BOATS] is marvelously destabilizing both as history and theater. The stalwartness and selfishness of the adventurers—their cockiness and cluelessness—become biting satire when sent up by women." —New York Magazine. “…you will surely want to spend time with the hearty title characters of MEN ON BOATS…[a] rollicking history pageant…MEN ON BOATS makes canny use of the obvious distance between performers and their roles to help bridge the distance between then and now…The tone is comic, but never cute or camp. And ultimately, you feel, the play respects its bold if fallible pioneers, in all their natural bravery and fearfulness.” —The New York Times.
Anne tells stories while manipulating STRING into shapes during the story. Amazing! Anne makes her living touring frequently from her home in Victoria, Canada. She's toured Hawaii many times. This is her ONLY SHOW during a 'vacation!' Catch Her!
Jeff has told stories all over Hawaii & internationally for 35 years, often with Shadow Puppets. In this show, he previews his new Jataka Tales (Buddhist Parables) in Shadows! (with audience participation parts!)
Sample Jeff's earlier work, ARABIAN NIGHTS: Tale of One Eye (Flying Horse, 10 min.)