HCT opens registration for Summer Stars

  • Courtesy of Hawai‘i Childrens Theatre

    The socially-distanced HCT Blocks directed by Julia Benson in the spring.

  • Courtesy of Hawai‘i Childrens Theatre

    Aesop’s Fables directed by Julia Benson in March, 2020.

LIHU‘E — The Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre announces they will be bringing back in-person learning with social distancing for the popular Summer Stars program with online registration starting on April 20.

To accommodate as many children as possible under the COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, this year’s offering will have three distinct sessions with each session limited to between 16 and 20 students.

“We worked hard to come up with a format that would give the interaction and experience of creating a show, but with a smaller group of students for more social distancing, and also more individual attention,” said HCT president and instructor Dolly Kanekuni. “This has been a difficult year for everyone. Our surveys and experience has demonstrated that theatre is great for building resilience and teamwork so we feel passionate about making it happen for the kids this year.”

The first program, “Wish Upon a Summer Star” will be held from June 7 through 30 with performances on July 1 through 3 for students aged 7 to 15 years old.

Co-directed by Carol Culver and Taj Gutierrez, this program will focus on the triple-threat skills of singing, dancing, and acting with classroom, workshops, and coaching, culminating in a final performance inspired by the characters and themes of Disney shows. The Cabaret-style format fits well for small groups performing on stage, and also to accommodate a variety of levels and experience from first-time performers gaining their confidence, to experienced performers honing their skills.

Two different programs will be offered in July.

Disney’s Aristocats KIDS, and also an original Adventure Theatre program.

Rebecca Hanson, Summer Stars show director, will return to direct Aristocats KIDS. The program is unique this year in that it will be all-day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for three weeks starting July 6, and performances scheduled for July 23 to 25.

Due to the social distancing in the Puhi Theatrical space, and on stage, the program can only accommodate 19 cast members instead of the usual 48. This is for keiki 9 to 15 years old with prior experience required.

“This was a hard decision to make, to go with a smaller show,” said Hanson. “But in this way, we can maintain social distancing, and accomplish the show within the three-week window. Because of the shortened rehearsal schedule, we want to make sure the kids involved have prior knowledge of what it means to put on a musical production. There are several components from reading a script, ability to sing, dance, and act confidently while working as a team onstage. We are so excited just to have a chance to prepare a show, and the reduced number of kids participating will make it possible to manage social distancing, and provide more individual attention.”

Julia Benson will be directing “Adventure Theatre” that will be held in the afternoons from 1 to 5 p.m., July 6 and continuing for four weeks, culminating in weekend performances on July 30 and 31. Students from ages 7 to 15 years old may participate in this program that focuses on acting and storytelling skills where the kids will create their own “adventurous” production complete with missions and obstacles along the way. The resulting performance will be interactive and involve the audience.

Teens will also have a chance to be involved as Summer Stars interns, and as a Youth Production Team in Training with Gutierrez directing.

“This year, teens will be a part of the program, and also part of realizing the Director’s creative vision for each show,” Gutierrez said. “As interns, they will both educate and inspire our youth by showing them who they can become as artists. As a Youth Production Team in Training, they will contribute to each final production through costumes, props, set and lighting with the opportunity to exercise the skills they have learned building on last year’s production workshops. From my own experience, being a part of these productions is invaluable and I wanted to pass it on to other youth interested in the theater arts.”

Registration for Summer Stars is on a first-come, first-served basis at www.HawaiiChildrensTheatre.org. Registration is scheduled to open from 8 a.m., April 20, and students are encouraged to register early because spaces are limited. Financial aid is available.

Registration for the Intern Program and Youth Production in Training is on a rolling basis and is free of charge. For further information, email info@hawaiichildrenstheatre.org, or all 808-246-8985.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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