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Kaua‘i theater group brings 1930 play ‘Private Lives’ to life

LIHU‘E — After months of preparation, a group of local actors debuted their latest show on Friday in the Kaua‘i Community Players’ production of the 1930 play “Private Lives.”

The Garden Island spoke with the cast and director ahead of the first show at the final dress rehearsal earlier this week.

The five-member cast, one understudy, and approximately six to eight additional crew members have been rehearsing three to four times per week since early February, said Director Jim Ballantine.

“I think we’re ready. I think we’re all really ready,” he said.

Ballantine explained his decision for selecting Coward’s 1930 comedy of manners.

“I feel like comedies are my favorite thing to see. And I tried to think of what I wanted to see and this was it,” he said.

The play follows the messy relationship of a divorced couple who reconnect while honeymooning with their new spouses, after realizing that they happen to be staying in adjoining suites at the same hotel.

“The comedy comes from what happens after they meet after not seeing each other for five years,” said Ballantine.

Ballantine brings more than three decades of experience in the animation industry to his directing role, with producing credits, including the 2006 Disney films Bambi II and Brother Bear 2, as well as the 1991 to 1996 Nickelodeon cartoon The Ren &Stimpy Show, which earned him two Emmy nominations.

Ballantine has acted in several Kaua‘i Community Players’ productions, but Private Lives marks his directing debut for the theater company.

“I haven’t directed in many, many years,” he said. “It’s just gonna be so much fun.”

Ballantine noted the cast and crew got into character by researching the culture of France and England during the 1930s to better understand how people were dressing, talking, and behaving.

“Plus everybody had to learn how to speak with an English accent. So that was fun,” he said, adding that the cast worked with a dialogue coach, as well as a fight coordinator on the more physically demanding scenes. “We had a lot of assistance from wonderful people.”

Anne Sueko Coyle, who plays newly remarried Amanda, described working with Ballantine as an incredible experience.

“We’re lucky to have him,” she said, adding that Ballantine is “very demanding.” “He’s like, ‘I want you to know your character’s backstory. What were you guys doing with those five years you were apart?’ It’s a difficult play because the lines are fast, fast, fast. We have to do it in accents. We have to feel all this emotion.”

Coyle said she moved to the island about five years ago to paddle canoe, but found theater instead.

“I was getting injured (paddling), and I also loved acting and came out for an audition, and then got kind of hooked,” said Coyle during an intermission.

Coyle acts alongside former Garden Island newspaper reporter Guthrie Schrimgeour, who plays Amanda’s new husband Victor. Schrimgeour said he was excited “to work with this incredible cast and to make the audience laugh.”

Bailey Hutton, who plays Coyle’s ex-husband Elyot, was also looking forward to finally putting the show on for an audience.

“I think we’ve been ready for a long time. It’s just this week is getting the technical elements and the set ready and everything,” he said in a separate interview during the dress rehearsal’s intermission.

Hutton noted that he discovered Kaua‘i Community Players and acting after moving to the island about 12 years ago.

“I had never even like watched a show, and then I came to Kaua‘i. And oddly enough, I found theater on this small little rock in the ocean and been loving it ever since,” he said.

Tickets for the show’s first two opening nights were sold out Friday and Saturday, but Hutton encouraged the community to come out for other dates.

“It’s clever, witty, and fun, and I hope people can make it out for a good laugh,” he said.

Private Lives started on May 12 and runs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. until May 28 at Puhi Theatrical Warehouse in Lihu‘e.

For tickets:


Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached 808-652-0638 or
Source: The Garden Island

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