LIHU‘E — Starting May 4 and continuing through May 14 at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall, curtains for “Siddhartha: Seeker of Truth” rise at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and at 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Presented by the Kaua‘i Community College Music Department, “Siddhartha: Seeker of Truth” was written and composed by Kaua‘i Community College music professor Greg Shepherd, who describes the presentation as a world premiere.
“This is great,” said Ron Wiley, who is cast in the role of Father Benevolent in the musical theater. “It’s like the ‘medicine. Medicine is great!’ I never realized how much talent Greg has as not only a writer, but as a musical composer.”
A release from KCC said Shepherd has been writing music since high school, and has 30 years of directing experience.
“I read the novel ‘Siddhartha’ in college, as have a lot of my students at Kaua‘i CC, so I thought it would be a natural fit to tailor the musical to the themes of the novel,” Shepherd said.
The two-act musical follows the progress of Arthur Hope Jr., a college student who reads the classic novel “Siddhartha” and is inspired to set off on his own quest for the meaning of life in emulation of the title character of the novel.
“This play is a coming-of-age story with many elements people can relate to and enjoy, such as how one finds their place in the world while acknowledging the important roles they play in society,” said Averie Soto, who is the producer. “It has a bit of something for everyone no matter their age: comedy, drama and a great musical score.”
A cast of 50 KCC students and other community members will bring to life a script that delves into the question of what it means to be alive, but within a comical context, states a news release from KCC.
“Coming from more than 20 years of concertizing and music directing, I can tell you that it is rare for an original work of this magnitude to come together so well,” said Monica Chung, the show’s music director and a graduate of Juilliard Conservatory.
“Our entire cast is from this amazing Kaua‘i community, and they have accomplished what many professionals would struggle to achieve. My only wish now is that their enthusiasm and hard work is reciprocated by an equally supportive audience,” said Chung.
Shepherd originally created the show over a period of several years, with the intent of having the original production scheduled for 2020. But COVID intervened.
“For me, at least, the cloud of the pandemic had a silver lining, since I was able to use those three years to augment and perfect the script and the musical score,” Shepherd said. “Plus, we have a truly amazing cast that has brought the production up to a level I never imagined possible on Kaua‘i.”
Noah Cabello, who plays the main character, is joined by Ben Nause as Farley Riggle, his comic sidekick on their journey.
“The style of singing for myself is very different from the type of singing I was doing,” Cabello said. “With Greg’s help, however, I have managed to really grow in my singing abilities, and I’m excited to show off to the island what I can do in a couple of weeks.”
Shepherd said the talented and enthusiastic cast of singers, actors and dancers have spent their Saturdays since January perfecting the songs, dances and scenes of the show.
“In addition to being a brand-new production, ‘Siddhartha: Seeker of Truth’ showcases the talents of both seasoned and fresh actors from across the island,” Soto said. “Additionally, it showcases the talented musicians, set designers and many other artisans. Their passion for this play, and the direction by Greg Shepherd, are what brings this story to life and makes it an enduring treat for all audiences.”
Nalani Brun, director of the county Office of Economic Development, is cast as Angela Mortadella, the Angel of Death.
“This production tells one of my favorite stories — the story of finding your own inner strength,” Brun said. “I am so glad to be able to learn from, and be motivated by, this amazing diverse cast and leadership.”
Tickets are available online at eventbrite.com/e/siddhartha-seeker-of-truth-tickets-98735437351, and siddharthaseekeroftruth.com.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island