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From Hawaii to the Moon

Travel to the Moon with “Apollo” and Honolulu Theater for Youth.

For the most part professional theater is not part of a typical Hawaii Vacation however, Hawaii does have a professional theatre just for children. Honolulu Theatre for Youth puts on about 6 productions per year, primarily for school children, at the Tenney Theatre on the grounds of the historic St. Andrew’s church in downtown Honolulu. Tickets for Saturday afternoon performances are available to the public at very reasonable rates.

“Apollo: To the Moon,“ written by Mary Hall Surface and directed by Kevin Reese, is running through this Saturday, February 19, with a special hands-on behind the scenes workshop held before the final performance. I attended a recent weekday morning performance with my 6 year old’s school group and found the theatre, while small (300 seats) and older, was both comfortable enough for the hourlong performance and boasted better sound and acoustics than its age led me to expect.

Where the theatre shone was in the talent of HTY’s acting and directing. “Apollo” stars actor Antonio Anagaran in a one-man show that’s as captivating for adults as it is for children. Presenting the history of American space exploration from the viewpoint of a child of the 50s who becomes an astronomer and scientist of the 60s, the play incorporates actual historical video, audio, and stills in the narration.

Anagaran’s boundless energy and enthusiasm keeps even the younger kids engaged and entertained. From playing a child to a NASA head or German scientist, he makes every character come to life. Remarkably, Anagaren is an adept physical actor, performing moves worthy of a gymnast. When he’s simulating G forces, you feel as though you too are in the training module.

A simple set and minimalist props keep the focus on the story, while a large video screenshows stills and video clips. Historical details, including JFK’s and Martin Luther King’s assassinations, are mentioned, along with references to pop culture. Most of this will be way over the kids’ heads, but serves as a nice touch to place the era.

My 6 year old agreed- we both highly recommend this performance. If your child hasn’t already developed an interest in space, HTY’s production of “Apollo” could be the key.

NASA Photo: The Hawaiian Islands as seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Feb 16, 2011