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Performing Arts Center
“It was “among the happiest I’ve seen a group of young people in my life,” Elliott said.
Some students cried; others jumped for joy.
“It was one of the happiest days I had as an educator, seeing the look on those kids’ faces,” Elliott said. “They have been excited for years.”
“It was (like) Christmas at 5 years old and Santa just showed up.”
“It was like our first maiden voyage in there,” Kepler joked, alluding to the pirate-themed musical set to christen the new theater. “They were filled with glee, gratitude and honor for sure.”
“Lot of chicken-skin moments,” Kepler said.
From the Director:
I can not start and end in any way other than with gratitude. So, thank YOU for supporting the arts! Thank you to Susan Scofield (former principal), Carolyn Johnson (former Drama teacher), and Kyle Yamashita (U.S. House Representative, District 12) for being the driving forces behind our new Performing Arts Center. Thank you to Mark Elliott (principal), who has battled, pushed, and pleaded for the Center to open THIS year. That was in NO WAY easy. Quite the contrary. Also, for his ambitious vision for the Center to serve as an educational institution in itself - hosting an eventual Kekaulike Arts Academy that educates students through immersion in technical theater. Thank you to the staff of Kekaulike. Thank you to Casey Nagata (Band/Music teacher), as my Kekaulike performing arts partner and tireless supporter and challenger of students. Thank you to Rob Harper-O’Connor. Thank you to alumni, who each have a piece of themselves in this building; remember those cafetorium set ups and shows! Your work helped lead to THIS! Thank you to Kenna Rego, assistant director, head costumier, and incredible young lady; we will miss you next year in London at fashion school! Thank you to Jacquie Zambrano. Thank you to the PAC opening night and reception committee members. Thank you to Ocean Zbiciak (Chair of committee and Kekaulike PCNC). Thank you to the students in the orchestra! Thank you to Amy Lord. Thank you to the Hawaiian Immersion program and Pulama Collier and Kapolei Ki’ili. Thank you to Jason and Kai Richardson. Thank you to Chef Cathy Feiteira (Culinary), my teacher-neighbor, and constant example and leader of her students and provider at school functions. Thank you to Melanie Nakashima. Thank you to parents, who encourage and enable their sons/daughters in positive arts programs. Thank you to the original PACT team and Drama Mamas. Thank you to Ginifer Nania. Thank you to future board members of the foundation that will steward this facility/academy. Thank you to all the businesses who have supported us with donations. Thank you to Bea Arendale. Thank you to Martin Follose (Playwright) for joining us from the Mainland for the opening of our/his show! And to Bill Francoeur (Composer) for his gift of music. Thank you to Pam Hoff. Thank you to our True Dramaatican financial donors. Thank you to Peter Rehfuss. Thank you to my mother and father, William and LuEllen Kepler, for years of service to Dramaatica and Maui. Thank you to my wife, Aki, and daughters Maile, Puakenikeni, and Kiele for their unending love and sacrifice to my profession. Thank you to anyone I overlooked (sorry). And, finally, thank you to the cast; we were all part of something very special here, gang. THANK YOU for your passion, discipline, commitment, and love throughout.
Please enjoy The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree!!!
King Kekaulike Drama Teacher
King Kekaulike high school opened in 1995. Part of the original construction plans included an auditorium theater. However, due to high construction costs, the theater was scratched. In 2005, former principal and staunch supporter of the arts, Susan Scofield, and former Drama teacher, Carolyn Johnson, began a campaign for a Performing Arts Center. “Arts for all!” was the motto. There were speeches before visiting legislators and the Board of Education, strategizing among the Fine Arts department and parent groups, trips to Oahu to visit other high school theaters. Susan and Carolyn enlisted US House Representative Kyle Yamashita (District 12), who became extremely active in the campaign. Other heavy players in the early part of the campaign were Toby Neal, Maddy Powell, Dana Hartley, Ashley Ventimiglia, Rob Harper-O’Connor, Melanie Seaton Goodin, the PACT team, Drama Mamas, and KKHS teachers and staff. When legislators visited the King Kekaulike High School campus, Susan wanted to showcase the drama program in their limited performance space. Legislators were led outdoors to see a performance, and then into the acoustically challenged cafetorium to hear Drama club president Corinne Powell’s impassioned plea, which was featured in The Maui News in Fall 2005. It all resulted in a petition drive that gathered close to 5,000 signatures. Representative Yamashita now had a focused response he could take to the legislature, and in 2008, funding was approved for the surveying! And the push continued. In 2008, Carolyn Johnson retired, and Chris Kepler took the reigns of the Kekaulike Drama program. Over the last 10 years, the King Kekaulike Dramaaticans have produced 25 plays and 10 full-length musicals, with the last five featuring a full student orchestra under the direction of Casey Nagata (KKHS Music/Band teacher). Currently, there are 129 students enrolled in Acting and Play Production classes and 106 in the extracurricular Drama club. And the band plays at well over 100 events a year!
The KKHS Performing Arts Center will serve generations of Maui students. Current principal, Mark Elliot, is intent on his vision of a technical theatre academy, in which students are immersed and educated in modern theater technology. The center will also host assemblies, band and music concerts, ceremonies, and, in time, with its cohort of student crew and a facilities manager, be available for private entities to hire.
We thank everyone who has pushed for this exquisite space. And we celebrate a triumph for the arts. Arts For All!!!!
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