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Founded in 2007, the Paliku Academy of Performing Arts began its adventure with 52 students enrolled in their Summer Theatre Camp for Kids 2007. The cast produced PAPA's first musical production, "Disney's Jungle Book KIDS" in July with four performances at the Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College. The show was Directed by Mr. J.P. Tai, Musical Direction by Kristopher De La Cruz and Amy Oshiro and Choreography by Pomai Lopez and Katrina Johnson.
Following the success of their first summer, PAPA began plans for their Summer 2008 hit, "Disney's Mulan Jr." The cast grew to 60 and the staff included Sarahlea Gamiao-Kekuna and Zack Oyafuso. Performances continued to be held at Paliku Theatre and included an appearance at the Hawai'i Literature & Arts Festival. Five sold-out performances were a sign that PAPA was on the right track. The directors knew that they would need to expand to be able to accommodate the talent and performers.
With a new summer came new opportunities. The program moved from WCC and into King Intermediate. PAPA created a dance studio in an old auto-shop garage and the new facility held all 66 cast members - 33 boys and 33 girls. Our largest cast to date produced our first musical revue "The Show Must Go On". It was performed at the Ronald E. Bright Auditorium at Castle High School. Four jam-packed shows were proof that relocating was what was needed to move forward. Musical Direction by Amy Oshiro and Choreography by Katrina Johnson.
PAPA embarked on a Fall Season, to include a musical production "The Magic of Christmas" and began its popular parade program. That December, PAPA entered the Kane'ohe Christmas Parade and won: First Place Adults and Youth Marchers, First Place Non-Commercial Float and Overall Most Outstanding Entry. The performers danced down Kamehameha Highway as "children" and "toys" brought to life with the magic of the season. Shows were at Ala Moana Centerstage, Islandwide Holiday Expo and PAPA partnered with "Toys for Tots" and made a presentation at Windward Mall, concluding their performance season.
This is definitely a show that stays in your heart. PAPA unveiled "Seussical the Musical" as its 2010 Summer Musical production...emphasis on the word PRODUCTION! The cast worked very hard and produced a show that was memorable both on and off stage. The costumes were phenomenal (Evette Allerdings), the sets were amazing (Russ Ramos & Lowell Terada), and the cast was unbelievable. Choreography by Katrina Johnson and Musical Direction by Zack Oyafuso. The show returned to the Paliku Stage for five sold out, SRO shows.
Another Christmas season meant another Christmas show, but this time it would be an original musical revue, "Home for the Holidays." The Fall Cast grew and the hard-working parents created "Christmas Island" for our entry in the Kane'ohe Christmas Parade. PAPA won again: First Place Adults and Youth Marchers, First Place Non-Commercial Float and the chairperson asked if we would be willing to be Santa's float in 2011. What an honor! The season was great and prepared us for auditions for the upcoming East Coast Tour!
This summer should be subtitled: Oh, yes we did! Trying something new is sometimes scary but definitely memorable. We wrote "Show Off!" which was part musical revue, part dance concert, part love story and part audience participation! The premise? A reality show where groups competed to be the top performing group. There were different themes each "week" in the show and at the end, a group would be eliminated. The catch? The audience got to decide who would perform and who would say "So Long, Farewell." We also expanded to include younger cast members. 58 in all, with Additional Choreography by Katrina Johnson, Musical Direction by Sarahlea Gamiao-Kekuna and Zack Oyafuso.
"Christmas Dreams Come True" was an adventure! Rehearsals were held at Kapunala Elementary and involved many new faces. We were featured as Santa's "Dream" Float, complete with reindeer and sleigh. The performers did a great job, clenching the First Place Award for Marching Youth. Our holiday revue took us to Kahala Mall, Pohai Nani, Ann Pearl, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Kapunahala's Breakfast with Santa and Ala Moana Center. 48 performers gave their all and it showed in each of their performances. After this, we knew our "dream" of traveling to the East Coast would be realized.
This summer could use it's own page! Rehearsals began shortly after the Fall Season concluded. We rehearsed, worked out our voices and our bodies and bonded. We had meetings with our chaperones to prepare for the tour while rehearsing for the shows. Yes, we prepared two shows to perform while on tour. On July 8th, PAPA departed Honolulu with 26 performers and 26 adults & tag-a-longs. We ventured to New York first, where we saw sights, performed at Fire House 10 and the World Trade Center Memorial, participated in a dance workshop, went shopping, rode the subway, visited the Empire State Building and did a LOT of eating. A definite highlight was our "Wicked Wednesday" where we first attended a musical theatre workshop with Alicia Albright (Dance Captain for Wicked NYC) and Jarrod (a lead dancer and Fiyero understudy) and the Musical Director. The performers AND chaperones learned "One Short Day" and the experience was unreal. Then we attended the show...unbelievable. The entire experience was mind-boggling. We also saw: Mary Poppins, Memphis and Rent. The Florida leg of our journey was just as exciting. Visiting the various parks at Walt Disney World and Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure and riding the attractions with all their friends was great. To top it off, the cast performed TWICE at Downtown Disney's Riverside Stage. Both shows were praised by the audiences as well as the Disney Technicians. It was truly a summer to remember!
After the excitement of the tour settled, it was time once again to produce a fall program. Though the numbers were humbler than what we were used to, it definitely gave many of our cast opportunities to shine. Everyone was given a narration, featured in the parade and we included many new people into the PAPA 'Ohana. Our appearances at Kahala Mall, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Kapunahala's Breakfast with Santa, Ann Pearl and Ala Moana Center brought in much interest in our program and we cannot wait to begin rehearsals for our next summer musical.
We knew going into our summer that emotions were bound to run high when dealing with such delicate content. The show came with many challenges - both personal and performance-related - but in the end, the 58 member cast did an amazing job presenting On Dragonfly Wings for eight performances, with over 2,800 audience members watching the reimagined Hawai'i Premiere. The show, with book by Lisa Matsumoto and music and lyrics by Roslyn Catracchia, warmed the hearts of the performers and audiences alike. Many shared how the story touched their lives and, for some, brought closure and understanding, especially our younger audience members. PAPA had many firsts, including the partnership with the Alana Dung Research Foundation, the Hawai'i Bone Marrow Donor Registry and the Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center, first time extending our performances to two weekends, and the first time our production team worked together. The show was Choreographed by Shannon Nakata, with Musical Direction by Amy Oshiro and Vocal DIrection by Sarahlea Kekuna. It was truly an honor to work on this show with so many talented artists, including composer Roslyn Catracchia, Orchestrations by David Kauahikaua, Set Design by Christopher Alsup with many blessings from the Matsumoto & Dung 'ohana as well!
There was much to recuperate from following our highly successful summer. Our slightly abbreviated fall brought even more to our 'ohana as we had 54 performers heading down Kamehameha Highway in Kane'ohe on December 7 with our very own Candy Cane Train. We also returned to Kahala Mall, Kapunahala's Breakfast with Santa, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and Ann Pearl Nursing Facility with our show, Believe. We added many more songs to our holiday repertoire, including crowd favorites like Extraordinary Merry Christmas. Candy Cane Train and local boy Bruno Mars' #1 hit, Treasure. With all the support and interest in more programs, the directors decided that 2014 had much more in store for our bright dream-filled future.