Justin John Moniz, Rhealee Fernandez, Sara Law, And John Tibbetts To Lead Cast Of HPAF's COMPANY
Since the summer of 2005, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival (HPAF) has continued to bring world-class music to Hawaii Island. Over the past fifteen years, HPAF has garnered an international reputation as a premiere training and performance program for aspiring young artists worldwide, many of whom have gone onto significant careers as singers, conductors, directors, orchestral musicians, and teachers. Each season, HPAF assembles an exceptional roster of faculty artists who provide instruction and appear in a series of events for the Big Island community. From June 24 through July 21, HPAF will present nearly 20 public performances at a number of notable island venues from Kona to Hilo, featuring both student and faculty artists.
Among the festival's many offerings, HPAF will produce Stephen Sondheim's 1970s musical comedy, Company. The piece features many classics from the musical theatre canon including the famous "Ladies Who Lunch," "You Can Drive A Person Crazy," and "Being Alive." HPAF's run will open on Friday, July 19 at 7pm at Hilo's Palace Theatre and close on Sunday, July 21 at 4pm at The Kahilu Theatre in Waimea. Justin John Moniz sings the role of Bobby, alongside a standout cast featuring Rhealee Fernandez (Joanne), Sara Law (April), and John Tibbetts (Harry). Audiences may remember both Fernandez and Law from the festival's 2018 production of Sweeney Todd, in the roles of Mrs. Lovett and Johanna, respectively.
A three-time winner of The American Prize in Vocal Performance, Justin John Moniz has sung over 80 roles with companies including Opera Grand Rapids, Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, and recently performed alongside Tituss Burgess in DreamCatcher Theatre's groundbreaking production of Into the Woods at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. Moniz, a two-time alumnus of HPAF's training program, makes his role debut as Bobby in the festival's upcoming production.
"Bobby's journey is rather complex as he struggles to understand the meaning of relationships, commitment, and love in its many forms. In one of the most crowded cities, New York, we see the juxtaposition of loneliness and isolation. Admittedly, there is a bit of Bobby in all of us. Those moments of uncertainty, self-discovery, and truth, strengthen us as human beings, and no character reflects that journey more than Bobby baby himself," according to Moniz.
Fresh off her debut with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Sara Law plays the role of April, a flight attendant, and one of Bobby's many girlfriends. "I sincerely hope that audiences will walk away, not just with a smile on their face from all the laughs, but with a better understanding of human nature," says Law. "What makes Company such a unique musical is how utterly relatable it is. At some point in their lives, everyone has been a Bobby, a Susan, an April, a Joanne, etc. These characters, although slightly exaggerated, are all deeply human with very real struggles and triumphs. Audiences should come, not just for the comedic elements and brilliant score writing, but also to see honest story-telling, and perhaps find characters that they relate to themselves."
John Tibbetts takes on the role of Harry, having recently appeared with Virginia Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Kentucky Opera. "Working with HPAF's world-class faculty in a small group setting is consistent with the detailed instruction one only encounters in a prestigious conservatory," according Tibbetts. This is my first year at Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, and it has been a marvelous two weeks- equal parts awe-inspiring and also reasonably challenging. Before the Company cast arrived we staged The Tragedy of Carmen and I sang Escamillo. Juggling two productions is a delight: two sets of brilliant faculty and performers from whom to learn, interact, and grow."
The rest of the cast includes Kiana Beverly, Kylie Deeds, Bree Betourne, Paul Cushman, Victoria Isernia, Courtney Liscio, Simon Dunlap, Evan Couch, Chloe Hayes, Colin McGonagle, John DeAngelo, Justin Daley, Hannah Jackson, and Katie McCollum. Company will be directed by Beth Dunnington, choreographed by Debra McGee, and conducted by Kirk Severtson. The production, accompanied by full orchestra, opens on Friday, July 19 at The Palace Theatre in Hilo. The closing performance is scheduled for Sunday, July 21 at 4pm at The Kahilu Theatre in Waimea. Tickets are available via the HPAF website or through the Palace Theatre at (808) 934-7010 and Kahilu Theatre at (808) 885-6868. For a full list of HPAF's summer offerings and more information, please visit: www.hawaiiperformingartsfestival.org.