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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 30, 2002

The dramas unfold at Kennedy and Leeward

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

A director acts, playing a crazy king; he shaves his head and finds his life's changing.

Aina Rapoza and Stephanie Kong star in "Fine Dancing," which makes its debut at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Earle Ernst Lab Theatre at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.

Lauren Forsythe

A student actor, who wasn't supposed to be on stage, discovers things happen for a reason.

Ah, the drama season is upon us.

Two one-acts

Paul Cravath, Leeward Community College drama teacher and director, takes center stage this weekend at the LCC Theatre, showing his acting side. He also went bald for the role.

"My dedicated students tell me I never get to act," said Cravath. "So I put myself in the hands of a student director."

In "Escurial," one of two one-acts (the other is "Boise, Idaho"), Cravath toiled with director Shawn Anthony Thomsen and actor-director Reb Beau Allen (who's acting in "Escurial" and directing "Boise") in mounting the plays.

"It's very satisfying, playing this great insane king, Philip II of Spain, who built the Escurial Palace to house the bones of the royals. He's a dirty mess with rotting teeth and filthy robes. But Phillip was a powerful man who launched the Spanish Armada in the 16th century."

Baldness put a new spin in Cravath's demeanor. "It totally changed my life, my self-image," he said. "I bought new clothes, I'm going to get a new car, and I'm spending money like mad. I also got a promotion to full professor. It's been amazing."

Cravath returns to directing with "The Three Musketeers," opening Nov. 7.

'Fine Dancing'

She was supposed to be the assistant director. But Stephanie Kong, who helped director Angela Morales with audition readings, turned out to be best qualified to play Rani in Kennedy Theatre's "Fine Dancing," opening Wednesday at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre.

"Angela kept telling me that this whole play (by Vilsoni Hereniko) is divinely ordained," said Kong, 19, a sophomore at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.

She finds solace and strength in Rani, Tahitian for "rain," who flees an abusive husband, finds comfort and solace in Hina, the moon goddess, and discovers the power and joy in dance."The play taps a gamut of emotion, including love, pain, loss, anxiety, everything you encounter in life."

The character "is at the height of emotional distress, who struggles to find personal sovereignty. Instead of searching for the other half of her life in a man, she searches her inner self. Refuge is a not a place, it's her own being. She is all she needs."

Kong yearns to teach in Wai'anae, experiencing an affinity with the area. "One of my best friends comes from Makaha; I met my boyfriend (Kai Cocquio, who portrays a dancer in the show) through her. I feel like I belong there."

The play's title, she said, was symbolic. "It's about dancing with grace and proficiency, with the things you are trying to express. And Rani is about awakening, like a new day, who finds healing power in dance, with themes used as metaphors for personal independence."

• • •

'Two One-Acts'

Featuring Michel de Chelderode's "Escurial" and Sean Michael Welch's "Boise, Idaho"

8 p.m. today and Saturday; 4 p.m. Sunday

Leeward Community College Lab Theatre

$10 455-0629

'Fine Dancing'

A play by Vilsoni Hereniko

Premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday; repeats at 8 p.m. Thursday and Sept. 6-7; and 2 p.m. Sept. 8

Earle Ernst Theatre, Kennedy Theatre, UH-Manoa

$9 general, $7 seniors, military, students, UH faculty; $3 UH students


Coming up

• 2002-2003 Drama Season roundup, Sunday in Island Life

• Manoa Valley Theatre's "A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline," opening Wednesday; 988-6131

• Army Community Theatre's "Oklahoma!" opening Thursday, Richardson Theatre, Fort Shafter; 438-4480, 438-5230