KPAC Kids Prepare For Opening Night

Kaua’i Performing Arts Center’s cast of 32 talented students is gearing up for Friday’s opening night of Anything Goes.

The musical comedy production is a love story set on an ocean liner, and was selected by Dennis McGraw, program coordinator for KPAC, because he says, “The music is fabulous.”

Cast members, such as Kaua’i High School student Nick Trepkovski, are excited about the performances.

“I really like going up on the stage and entertaining people,” says Trepkovski, who has one of the leading roles in the play. “I like offering them an escape from their boring jobs or whatever.”

The actor and singer joined KPAC upon the encouragement of one of his friends. Plus, he jokes, it’s a great place to meet girls, as the majority of students in the program are female.

KPAC is part of the state learning center program – a division of the gifted and talented program. There are 29 learning centers offering varying subjects including technology and language across the state; however, this is the only center on-island.

The program was established about 25 years ago and focuses on theatre arts for public school children in sixth to 12th grade.

Students must audition to enter the program, which produces a variety of shows, including The Crucible earlier this year.

One of the best things about the after-school program is that it helps build confidence by overcoming the fear of public speaking.

“This kind of cures that at a young age,” says McGraw.

The center also assists keiki in learning how to work together as a team.

“Because, inevitably, when you get close to production, things go wrong. It’s not all real smooth. They learn how to get thick skin, buckle down and work together to bring forward a positive ending to the play,” says McGraw. “It’s a very good thing; it’s a very powerful thing.”

KPAC offers a unique experience that isn’t obtained in the conventional classroom.

“It gives you an opportunity to speak in front of people and understand plays deeper than you would in the classroom,” says Kapa’a High student Savanah Frisk.

Frisk personally has conquered her fear of performing in front of others.

“At some point, nerves stop and turn into energy instead,” explains Frisk, who has been acting most of her life. “I get a burst of energy, and it’s really fun to stand up there and you know there are people in the audience watching you, and you just feed off of that.”

Abby Zelavega of Kaua’i High joined KPAC six years ago because she was told she was a drama queen.

“It’s so fun and builds up energy, and it’s a place to let loose your energy and put your time into it,” she says. “And then let it flourish into this really awesome thing you can show everyone you know and love.”

Closing night is the most rewarding experience for Zelavega.

“Everyone is pumped up. It’s really powerful to have it finally all come together and have it end,” she says. “That, to me, is the real payoff.”

Most rewarding for Kapa’a High’s Jasey Cantu is opening night.

“It’s going to practice, working really hard and seeing the big payoff when opening night comes around,” she says.

McGraw genuinely enjoys directing the shows and heading the program.

“In the process of putting together a play, many important life skills are used and developed,” he says.

The program teaches important aspects of everyday life, such as responsibility.

“Yes, they do get credit, but make no mistake about it, this is a huge time commitment,” McGraw notes.

Not only do the students regularly attend the classes, but they have work to do on their own, including memorizing their lines.

“Memorizing lines is hard work,” says McGraw. “If you’ve never done it, you don’t know how hard it is. This is a true labor of love.”

Anything Goes is on stage April 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 3. The performances will be held at Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu’e.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for students in advance, and are available at Birdie’s, Progressive Expressions, Vim ‘N Vigor, Jim Saylor Jewelers and the North Shore Pharmacy; at the door it’s $12 for adults, $10 for students. For more information, call 651-2417.