Seeing a GHOST
Tropicbird Entertainment, a new local production company, is presenting something that is sure to have audience members at the edge of their seats Friday (Aug. 28): the original dinner-theatre production Ghost of the Sinclair Plantation at Courtyard by Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach.
“It’s a work of historical imagination,” says Nadya Wynd, who wrote the play and is one of the creative directors of the company.
It’s a murder mystery set on Kauai in 1888 based on historical facts and culture of Kauai that Wynd carefully researched.
“People will be able to see the authentic thing, so they have a sense of what it was really like,” she says, adding that Kauai Historical Society also will display photos of the time period at the hotel.
What makes the it really exciting is the “whodunit” plot that follows the afterlife of Beulah Sinclair. She is the second wife of Kauai sugar plantation owner John, and was found dead on the company’s railroad tracks.
The audience gets to decide which one of the plantation’s five residents is the culprit. The bonus is that guests will have a chance to win a tour from Sunshine Helicopters if they correctly solve the mystery at the end of the show. The answers are to be written out and placed in a large koa bowl — the first accurate answer selected wins.
“This one came quickly — it just kind of channeled itself,” she says.
It’s not always so easy for her, but she admits that usually, “things sort of just put themselves together for me.”
The seasoned screenwriter was excited to join forces with Melissa Mojo, co-creative director at Tropicbird Entertainment. Recently they worked together on the Women In Theatre production Beyond Therapy and found they were in alignment on many of the same principles.
“We found that we have a similar goal and desire to work in a certain way, enjoy the process and create things that inspire and uplift people,” says Wynd.
“We just love what we’re doing, and our goal is to be very collaborative with each other and the people who want to play with us, have fun and create these amazing productions,” agrees Mojo.
The theatrical duo plans to stage many more plays of all sorts to the island, including Nobody’s Boy, which Wynd wrote and produced in 2002 while living in California.
“It’s an expensive, big spectacle musical,” says Wynd.
That’s why Ghost of the Sinclair Plantation also will serve as a fund-raiser – in an effort to bring Nobody’s Boy, the story of a circus family set in the late 1800s, to town.
“It’s full of live, juicy music and dance and circus performances,” says Wynd.
The new company’s main goal is to offer more original musicals like this to the island, “so the whole family could attend and everybody would enjoy it together — a family event,” says Wynd. “Also, that the productions aren’t plays that people have been doing for 60 years and keep recycling over and over. I mean, the classics are wonderful, but we need to have new stories.”
After a career as a counselor, social worker and teacher, Wynd decided to look for something to fulfill her creative inclinations. She started acting in the early 1980s, and attended film school at University of Texas.
“I always wanted to help make the world a better place and make changes for positive benefit to humanity,” she says. “I thought if you could create entertainment that had positive messages and helped people understand themselves, other people and life, then you could do it and enjoy it and have fun.”
Mojo, however, didn’t get involved in theatre until recently. Her career was largely in the corporate world, working for companies such as MasterCard in New York City.
“I had these really heavy-duty corporate jobs,” she says.
Burnt out with the lifestyle, she eventually found her way to Hawaii, and a few years later, starting taking acting lessons in Colorado, to which she regularly was commuting to visit the man she later married, Judah Freed. In 2011, she was cast in a local production of The Language Archives.
“Any other place I would live, I would not have opportunities like this because I’m such an amateur,” she says.
Developing Tropicbird Entertainment has been a great experience for both of them, “and watching the evolution of the play and the development that happens in the process from the first read-through,” says Wynd, who has an adult son named Eden.
“You know, it’s like a painting that starts with just a line drawing,” she adds. “Then you add some color, and then the background, and it’s coming into view. It’s an amazing process to watch as it materializes and manifests out of just a little line drawing.”
She is excited to see where the company takes them.
“We just want to create really high-quality, engaging, inspiring entertainment,” she says.
Ghost of the Sinclair Plantation opens Friday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $75, $65 for kamaaina, and include a buffet dinner. Visit tropicbirdentertainment.com to purchase tickets or for more information.