Island still basking in 'Phantom's' triumph
Curtain Call - by Paul Janes-Brown

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Island still basking in ‘Phantom’s’ triumph...

The great production by visionary/star Debra Lynn with her Maui Light Opera Company and the indefatigable team of Francie von Tempsky and David Johnston with the Maui Academy of Performing Arts may be gone, but it will never be forgotten by those who witnessed Maui theater history last weekend. Maui theater veterans agree there has never been an audience response like this to a production. 

When standing and clapping didn’t suffice to express what the audience felt, shouts, cheering and festooning the stage with roses is what they resorted to. It was truly operatic; for an instant it was like being at the Met or LaScala or Woodstock. Such was the level of enthusiasm that the performers seemed to be overwhelmed by it. But this is a normal and typical human reaction when an audience finds itself in the presence of great human voices. 

Lynn, Richard Cray and Randl Ask are world-class singers who could be the toast of any town. Thank God they have chosen Maui (although Ask lives now in Honolulu). Amber Naramore is a bright, young, rising star with a glorious voice. Add to the mix the intelligence, artistry and sensitivity of director John Langs, the talent of music director Stephen Haines, the “fabulous” Marsha Kelly, the marvelous Jerry Eiting, and the joyous and wonderful Diana Hutchinson. Throw in the outstanding acting of John Peterson, the character work by Vinnie Linares, Andrew Bulkley, John Ziegler and Stephen Hatcher. Sweeten with the “F” girls, Sheryl Preston, Ashley Jones and Karen Stavash. Put in a pinch of Christian Holmes’ boyish charm. 
Gerald Barron  -  Photo
Christine (Debra Lynn) cradles a fatally-wounded Phantom (Richard Cray) as former opera director Carríer (Randl Ask) looks on in "Phantom" which won critical praise and stirring ovations during its Castle Theatre run on May 9-12th, 2003

Mix it all up with the painterly talents of scenic artist Daniel Bissler, costume designer extraordinaire Bernard Tristan Foong, the lights of Will Hastings, mask makers Marianna Rydvald and Lee Michael Walczuk. Put it in the Castle Theater, the “pearl of the Pacific,” with its professional crew led by Rusty Conway and sound designer Stefan Phillips, and you’ve got the best that the theatrical art form can be. 

It is so uplifting to have a new artistic force on the island. A big mahalo nui loa to MAPA for its midwifery role so Maui can celebrate the birth of the Maui Civic Light Opera Company. They worked so hard for more than a year to give such pleasure, and one can only hope Walter Bissett, Gary Canier, Bill Crockett, Scott Holmes, Layla Iwamoto, Betty Janes-Brown, Cameron Keys, Sandra NaPua, Lisa Paulson, Bill Prucha, Eric Roberts, Marcia Seabern, Jay Slaughter, Tom Summers, and Alexis Ziegler, along with the stars, director, creative and technical wizards as well as Tristan’s army of seamstresses will be back again next year. It is pretty clear from the audience response they are definitely wanted.