125 keiki take Kahilu stage for new musical
Last weekend, Prince Dance Company (PDC) debuted their new dance musical “Wild Things” for two sold-out shows at the Kahilu Theatre. It was the nonprofit’s first public performance in three years, and it was well-received by an appreciative audience.
Based on Maurice Sendak’s 1963 illustrated children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” PDC’s Noelani Anderson and Angel Prince adapted the storyline, added a contemporary soundtrack, and filled the show with various dance forms and acrobatics.
“Sendak’s book seemed like the perfect fit for this year because it’s about a hero’s journey,” Angel Prince noted in our pre-show interview. “I feel like on some level, we’re all experiencing a bit of a hero’s journey as we come out of the pandemic… everything we’ve gone through and where do we want to go now? And that’s what a hero’s journey is. So, partnering with Thelma Parker Library inspired us to choose the book.”
“The story lends itself to something for the stage because the book is only 12 pages long. There was lots of space to fill, so we added characters like Maxx’s friends and a queen of the island. You’ll see different monsters and characters that don’t necessarily exist in the book but feel like they could exist.”
In this new version, Maxx (Quincy Quijano) has a sleepover with three of his best friends– Kayden (Azreal Graves), Jayden (Oliver Coney), and Harriet (Cameron Goodwin). When a rowdy pillow fight breaks out, Maxx’s mom (Sophia Sparks) sends them to bed early and without snacks. “You wild thing!” yells mom at her son, always dressed in a wolf’s costume. Maxx retorts, “If I’m so wild, I’ll eat you up!”
As they drift off to sleep, the four teenagers sail off to the island of the good groove where unicorns dance and brightly colored creatures gather to sing Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers.” The lyrics, “You belong in a boat out at sea/Sail away, kill off the hours/You belong somewhere you feel free,” are perfect for this scene.
Things aren’t always rosy for Maxx, especially when he encounters the evil Queen Xenadaia (Jasmine Baker), who demands obedience and loyalty from the newcomers.
The plot takes a backseat at this point in the show, merely a vehicle to deliver a series of 16 spectacular musical numbers offering ballet, contemporary trapeze, aerial silks, and breakdance, performed by talented children as young as five to late teens, with all levels of skills and experience.
The soundtrack featured a mix of classic rock songs (Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, The Beatles), a bit of hip-hop (The Beastie Boys, Montel Jorden), and some old-school R&B (Kool & The Gang). Most of the songs were popular decades before the cast was born.
Queen Xenadaia and Maxx resolve their differences, and she relinquishes her crown to him. Maxx and his buddies rationalize their shared fever dream as they catch a ride back home on the boat that brought them there.
Angel Prince directed “Wild Things,” and was assisted by some of the island’s best dance instructors.
“Typically, we do two shows a year with the younger students in the fall, and then we have the older, more advanced students in the spring. But due to the pandemic, no one had performed a live show for the public in three years, so we decided to combine both groups and let everybody perform together. It was enjoyable for the young ones to see the older dancers/performers prepare, and then for the older dancers to be role models and leaders for the younger dancers.”
On Friday, May 13, Prince Dance Company will be screening its film, “My Empty Body is Full of Stars,” at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. After that, the company is taking “Dance Galaxies,” an outreach portion of this show, to various schools in Puna, Hilo, and Waimea for the rest of May.
Listen to an interview with PDC’s Angel Prince
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steven Roby ©2022
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