Two community theater groups launch their fall seasons this month— one with a farcical whodunit and the other with a musical about a fading film star in the era of the talkies. A third group brings back the eternally popular Broadway favorite — with a masked man pursuing the hand and heart of a rising opera star — in its community theater premiere.
A fourth group, already playing its first production of the fall show, adds a Readers Theatre offering, too.
So there’s a lot to see, a lot to explore, a lot to applaud.
The premieres this month include:
• “The 39 Steps,” a stage adaptation by Patrick Barlow of a film by Alfred Hitchcock, is an Island premiere, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at Manoa Valley Theatre. It runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 25.
• “Sunset Boulevard,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber about a silent movie star struggling with the arrival of sound, making its Island premiere at 8 p.m. Sept. 30 at Diamond Head Theatre. The musical is based on a Billy Wilder film, and features lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. It repeats at 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, with additional 3 p.m. matinees Oct. 8 and 15, through Oct. 16. Mary Gutzi is guest artist in the lead role of Norma Desmond, the fading star with unfulfilled ambitions and a doomed relationship with a rising screenwriter.
• “The Phantom of the Opera,” another Andrew Lloyd Webber (with lyricist Charles Hart) spectacle, receives its community theater launch at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9 at Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College. It repeats at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 9. Nearly all performances are already sold out.
“Harvey,” Mary Chase’s comedy classic about an invisible rabbit, which opened last Aug. 26 at the TAG Theatre at Dole Cannery in Iwilei. It repeats at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 18.
And ready to roll:
"The Maestro's Woman," a drama by Jan Shiarella McGrath, in a TAG Readers Theatre presentation directed by Victoria Gail White, for one weekend, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 and 24.
‘The Phantom of the Opera’
Known for: A falling chandelier, a grand masquerade ball, a masked obsessive suitor with a deformed face, and a soprano heroine afraid but attracted to the phantom who lives in the Paris Opera House; plus a host of hit songs (“Think of Me,” “The Music of the Night,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “All I Ask of You”).
The players: Miles Wesley, the Phantom; Lydia Pusateri, Christine Daae; Kyle Malis, Raoul; Jaime Craycroft, Carlotta; Johnny Reed, Ubaldo Piangi; Doug Scheer and Len Villanueva, Firm and Andre; Madison Eror, Meg Giry; and Marlise Ahuna,Madame Giry.
Backstage team: Ronald Bright, director; Clarke Bright, musical director; Lloyd “Sandy” Riford, lighting and set designer; Evette Tanouye Allderdings, costumer.
Tickets: $49 VIP, $45 adults, $40 discount, $30 students. Advisory: nearly all seats are gone.
Reservations: 235-7310, www.hawaiionstage.com.
‘The 39 Steps’
Known for: its twisted storyline from the 1935 Hitchcock film, blending mystery with comedy, with 150 characters (from heroes to villains, from children to inanimate objects) portrayed by a cast of four.
The players: Elitei Tatafu Jr., Richard Hannay; Samanta Stolzfus, Annavella Schmidt/Pamela/Margaret; Britton Adams, Clown # 1; Duncan Dalzell, Clown # 2.
Backstage crew: Rob Duval, director; Janine Myers, lighting designer; Jason Taglinaetti, sound designer; Duncan Dalzell, set designer; Dusty Behner, costumer; Greg Howell, hair and makeup designer; Sara Ward, props designer; Shell Dalzell, special effects designer.
Tickets: $30; $25, seniors and military; $15, youths 25 and under.
Reservations: 988-6131, manoavalleytheatre.com.
Known for: A grand staircase, from which a fading silent film star descends, and a number of Lloyd Webber hit songs (“As If We Never Said Goodbye,” “With One Look”).
The players: Mary Gutzi, actress Norma Desmond; Mark Pennaz, screenwriter Joe Gillis;
Olivier Jodloman, Max Von Mayerling; Jody Bill, Betty Schaeffer; Gerald Altwies, Cecil B. DeMille.
Backstage crew: John Rampage, director and choreographer; Phil Hidalgo, musical director.
Tickets: $12 to $42; discounts for children under 18, full-time students, seniors 62 and older, active-duty military.
Reservations: 733-0274, diamondheadtheatre.com.
Known for: That invisible hare, immortalized in an iconic film, who is an imaginary friend of Elwood P. Dowd, who introduces Harvey to everyone he meets. His sister, embarrassed by all of this, institutionalizes him in a sanitarioum.
The players: Sam Polson, Elwood P. Dowd; Patricia Gillespie, Veta Louise Simmons;
Lauren Ballesteros, Miss Johnson; Lauren Murata, Myrtle Mae Simmons; Kathy Bowers, Mrs. Chauvenet; Adriane Flower, Ruth Kelly; D. Tafa’i Silipa, Duane Wilson; Thomas Smith, Dr. Lyman Sanderson; Bob Hamilton, William R. Chumley; Lauren Ballesteros, Betty Chumley; Richard C. Goodman, Omar Gaffney; S. Rick Crump, E.J. Lofgren
Backstage crew: Brad Powell, director.
Tickets: $50 general, $15 seniors; $12, students and military with ID; all seats $10 on Thursdays.
Reservations: 722-6941, www.taghawaii.net.
“The Maestro’s Woman”
Known for: a shared tale about love and music, of Elvia Puccini and her life with composer Giacomo Puccini.
The players: Jim Aina, Laura Buzzell, Sara Langham and David Farmer, with Peter Clark, Stacy Groves, Susan Killen, John Wythe White.
Admission: $10 suggested donation at the door.