Maurice (Dick Hershberger) and Belle (Cristina Hussey) share a moment. (Janet Coney/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Belle (Cristina Hussey) tends to the Beast’s (Pedro Kaawaloa) wounds. (Janet Coney/Special to West Hawaii Today)
The Kilauea Drama and Entertainment Network will turn to the music, magic and majesty of Disney for the second consecutive summer as its production of “Beauty and the Beast” opens tonight.
Performances are slated for 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees through July 28 at the Kilauea Theater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
KDEN’s successful run of “Cinderella” last summer was one factor that helped convince Director Suzi Bond to take another draw from Disney’s family friendly well.
“I really didn’t know the show very well and everybody kept telling me how wonderful the show was and I was, like, ‘Oh really?’” she said. “Now I know that’s it’s a wonderful show. And it’s rare for me to take that leap out and do a show I don’t know well.”
The show is based on the 1991 Disney film, and features the music of Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Woolverton.
Two of Hilo’s most beloved performers, Cristina Hussey and Pedro Kaawaloa, will be tackling the lead roles of Belle, the Beauty, and the Beast, respectively. Kaawaloa, KDEN’s music director, and Hussey have announced their intentions to go to New York for careers in professional theater, and are coming off a successful run of three farewell concerts at East Hawaii Cultural Center.
“They’re incredibly talented and, at least for Cristina, this is the last time you’ll see her here for awhile. She heads out in mid-September to the New York Film Academy,” Bond said. “With Pedro, he’s got some commitments that will keep him here at least until the end of the year. I’m hoping he’ll be here until next summer so he can do (Gilbert and Sullivan’s) ‘Ruddigore.’ And he wants to do that.”
Helping the unbeastly Kaawaloa transform into the title character is Bryan Furer, a semi-retired professional makeup artist whose credits include “The Tempest” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
“He’s got a little convection oven in the dressing room and he’s been making what they call appliances for Pedro’s forehead and cheeks,” Bond said. “And there’s a big beard and a skull cap with horns and wigs. And except for his eyes, you really don’t know it’s him at all.”
Others in the cast include: Dick Hershberger, Byron Karr, Kathy Mulliken, Stephen Bond, Roch Jones, D’Andrea Pelletier, Corey Yester, Kaui Trainer, Emerson Aynessazian, Erin Gallagher, Stephanie Becher, Asia Ring, Joy Sever Emma Tunison, Kyra Bockrath, Fiona Broward, Kamaile Carvalho, Clara Cellini, Julia Cellini, Louisa Cellini, Jessie Coney, Dan “Kana” Covington, Matthew Dorn, Nathan Ducassse, Ella Noeula Johnson, Katie Kluzak, Elizabeth Mulliken, Dawn Pelletier, Teagan Rutkowski, Briana Tucker-Archie, and Elizabeth Young.
Bond said the show is the most intricate production KDEN has done, with 34 cast, five crew and nine sets. In addition, there is a 19-piece orchestra, conducted by retired Hilo High School band director Armando Mendoza.
“They literally brought tears to my eyes, they’re so fabulous,” she said.
In addition to the dance, choreographer Carmen Richardson will help Bond ensure that the cast doesn’t run amok on a small stage.
As with most family friendly shows, children are integral to the cast. Bond refers to them as “weaponized cuteness” and says they could upstage their adult cast mates.
“We’ve got seven of the most adorable children in the world,” she said. “They come out and Stephen says to me, ‘Mom, even though the spotlight’s on and I’m the one who’s singing, when they walk out there I may as well be naked on that stage, because nobody’s gonna notice.’”
Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 students and seniors 60 and over, and $10 for children 12 and under, available at Kilauea General Store in Volcano, Keaau Natural Foods, Paradise Plants and the Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo, and the door. For reservations and information, call 982-7344.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.