Over a year of planning and teamwork among teachers, parents, community members and local businesses resulted in the Kalaheo Elementary School production of “Honk! Jr.” last week.
There will be repeat performances tomorrow and Saturday.
“This has been a tremendous effort by a very large group of people who care about their community and our children, and I can’t help but be in awe of the generosity of people everywhere,” said Marly Madayag, Kalaheo School teacher and the production’s co-director.
Even before Madayag could consider doing “Honk! Jr.,” a Broadway musical adapted for younger performers, the cafeteria had to be converted to a theatre. The building needed to be sound-treated to deaden the echo. The acoustic treatment was installed over the summer by local businessman and sound engineer Mark Riley and the Rotary Club of Po‘ipu.
A new lighting system had to be installed. The ABC production of “Lost” helped Madayag gain access to California lighting vendors. Through school fund-raising, private donations, a grant from Young Brothers and a donation from the Dorvin Leis Co., they were able to order the lighting system.
“From there, production manager and school Parent and Community Network Center facilitator Robin Herbig found volunteer parents to install the lighting truss,” Madayag said.
Wasa Electronics installed new outlets and director and lighting designer Ed Eaton installed the system.
A temporary curtain needed to be installed in order to conceal the many set pieces. Vicki Arakaki, a retired business woman, volunteered to install a curtain for the show.
On opening night, parent and teacher Lori Sasan and her crew were there early to apply stage make-up.
“We had a gentleman come in and teach us,” Adrienn Olson said.
Teaching artists from the Hawai‘i Opera Theatre on O‘ahu were flown over to Kaua‘i, with help from the Kaua‘i Economic Development Board. HOT artists held acting workshops for the children and trained the volunteer parents on make-up techniques for the stage.
Stage managers Sue Macklin and Minde Hine double-checked the list of props and reviewed the set changes with their six-student technical team.
Artists from local theater companies Hawai‘i Children’s Theater and Kaua‘i Community Players, like Ron Horoshko led parents in building sets and consulted on costumes.
Linda Silva worked on costumes for the last two productions, but this year worked as a “mic person.” She worked with first-time volunteer parent Kristi Akamine to coordinate the 11 lavaliere mics among the 36 performers.
“We get more nervous than the kids,” Silva said. “If we mess up, we feel so bad because they worked so hard.”
Barbara Bloemke volunteered to handle the costumes for the first time. As the costume designer, she got her inspiration from what the characters represented.
“I came up with (the ducklings’ costumes) because of the bibs,” she said. “I did some searching for orange Crocs to pull it all together.”
Bloemke said she had to outfit 32 frogs and make it easy for costume changes.
Along with Bloemke, Addie Fleming, Jean Eeles and Deborah Ventura did most of the sewing.
Part of the funding for the costumes came from a grant from Young Brothers. Some of it came from the fourth and fifth graders in the A+ after school program, who voted to contribute money earned from the A+ school store and used for service projects.
The drama club is open to students in grades two through five. They meet every Friday during the afternoon club period. When opening day gets closer, they put in additional time on Thursdays and Saturdays as well as lunch recesses.
“I love acting,” said Jake Herbig, fourth grader who plays the Drake. He described his role as a “challenging” one.
“I’m the funny guy,” he said.
Lorinda Sasan, another fourth grader who plays the part of the mother duck, said she enjoys being in the production because she gets to make friends.
“It’s fun to get up there (on stage), to do your part and sing and to hear the crowd cheering,” said fifth grader Danika Thompson who plays the part of the Cat.
Heidi Herr, a fifth grader, said she was excited when she got the lead role. It’s her first production and she said it took awhile to learn all her lines.
“I have so many,” she said. Her older brother, who attends Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, helped her memorize her lines.
“Our school community takes pride in presenting a quality product that brings great enjoyment to our audience. It’s very rewarding to see our students learn how they can have such a positive effect on people,” said Erik Burkman, principal of the school and producer of “Honk! Jr.”