Lively pop musical ‘Emma!’ opens Friday

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Photo by Faith Owan

Senior Aeris Joseph-Takeshita is the lead playing Emma, a teenager who's determined to find love for everyone, but who gets surprised when her judgement isn't always as spot-on as she'd like to think. 'Emma!' the musical will be playing Nov. 6-7 and 13-14, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays.

Fun music, lively dance numbers, teachers as guest performers, and great voice talent coalesce in the upcoming musical Emma! to open this Friday.

The play is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma and is directed by Ms. Camille Romero, newly returned after serving two years in another position at KS Maui and being away from directing for a total of four years.

In the play, the main character, Emma Woodhouse, tries to play matchmaker for her friend Harriet Smith. Even though Emma thinks she has a knack for creating perfect pairs, she discovers that not everyone is on the same page as she tries to find the perfect love interest for her single buddy.

Senior Aeris Joseph-Takeshita plays the lead role. She said it’s “bittersweet” to be performing in the last musical of her high school career.

Involved in theater production since her freshman year, Joseph-Takeshita is the drama club president and has starred in previous Kamehameha Maui productions, playing leads like Alice in Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella in Into the Woods. She even directed a play, Selfie, for her senior project. Read about it here.

Joseph-Takeshita’s experience in plays inside and outside of school definitely shines in her performance. Her confidence, strong stage presence, well-developed singing voice, and energetic acting are impressively fitting for her role as Emma.

The senior described her character as being the typical “it” girl who thinks that love is the most important thing in life.

“She has the best clothes, she’s everyone’s best friend,” Joseph-Takeshita said. “She’s just kind of in her head all the time.”

With all of her involvement in play productions, Joseph-Takeshita also knows where her priorities lie.

“We [the drama club] are a giant family,” she said. “I really love each and every person in this cast, and I think that’s the best part of the show.”

Junior Mariana Kaniho is “super excited” to be playing her first lead as Harriet Smith, the sophomore being set up with anyone Emma deems worthy.

Kaniho is entertaining in her role, portraying her character’s dorky traits with zest and good comedic timing. Her singing voice is definitely a standout part of her performance. She has been recognized for it by being cast as a soloist and in singing roles since her start in school theater two years ago.

One of the eligible candidates that Kaniho’s character Harriet is being pushed to date is the charismatic Philip Elton, played by senior Cole Schafer.

In the play, Philip is a junior running for student council president in his upcoming senior year. Arrogant, charming and determined to gain votes, he gives the impression of being interested in Harriet. When Emma tries to set them up and discovers his true feelings, it’s a cause for drama.

Schafer describes his character as the show’s antagonist.

“I’m a true politician, and I’ll stop at nothing to achieve my goal,” he said.

Schafer has also been involved in theater productions both in and out of school, and has a knack for bringing humor, lightheartedness and high-energy to his roles, although he can also play more dramatic roles, such as lead role of John Proctor in The Crucible. His performance in Emma is a fine addition to the repertoire of fun, lively characters that he has brought to life.

Along with its impressive cast, Emma also boasts the incorporation of popular music. Schafer described it as “a bunch of different music from a bunch of different eras.” With well-known songs, such as Katy Perry’s Roar, Girls Just Want To Have Fun as made famous by Cyndi Lauper, and Brave as made famous by Sara Bareilles being performed by talented students, it’ll be hard not to sing along!

“I love the music,” Kaniho said. “It’s modern and really pop-y. It’s a lot of girl power, and I love that.”

With well-executed music, fun choreography in front of bright backdrops, and enthusiastic acting, Kamehameha Maui’s depiction of Emma! is a must-see.

The play will opens on Friday Nov. 6, with additional performances Nov. 7, 13 and 14. On each night, there will be 7:30 p.m. show, and a 2 p.m. matinee on each Saturday.