‘Lost’ stars loan skills to children’s theater

Part of “Old Info And News”

Honolulu_theatre_for_youth_elizabeth_mitchell.jpgHonolulu Theatre for Youth

“Lost” actors move off O’ahu’s windswept beaches and out of jungle thickets to take a turn on the stage Sunday when they hold a play-reading session at Tenney Theatre to raise money for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth.

Matthew Fox (Dr. Jack Shephard) will read the part of Hercules in a new children’s fantasy about Maui. Jorge Garcia (Hugo “Hurley” Reyes) will portray Ferdinand the Bull. Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond David Hume) will be part of a trio involved in “Obake,” a ghost story.

After the show, the actors will hang out for autographs at a reception. They’re not only eager, but willing to show a different side of their talents.

“I’ve benefited in so many ways from living and working in Hawai’i,” said Daniel Dae Kim (Jin Kwon). “I’m happy to be able to return the favor (because) this benefit allows me to support three causes close to my heart: Honolulu, theater and our children. When times get tight and school budgets shrink, so often the arts are the first to be affected. Children’s theater is one of the valuable ways that we can help foster creativity and imagination as a vital part of our kids’ education.”

Said Garcia: “It will be fun doing something less intense for a change. It’s nice to do something for the local community. They have been welcoming to us, and I definitely feel like a part of this Island.”

Michael Emerson (Ben Linus) said the program is “a chance to work in front of an unselfconscious audience that still understands make-believe,” he said. “You know what magic the theater has to offer kids. … It’s magic that they understand, it’s magic that they employ. They haven’t yet been numbed to it by television and the cinema.”

“We are so blessed and grateful for these actors, giving back to the children and families of Hawai’i through stories,” said Eric Johnson, HTY artistic director. “What unifies them is what we hope will unify the world — in terms of creating the dramatic imaginations of our future, the kids.”

The fundraiser is the brainchild of Annie Wood, wife of Cusick. She joined the HTY board last November to fill out her days while he was shooting “Lost.” She was involved in children’s theater before she moved here with her husband and three children, Elias, 13; Lucas, 8; and Esau, 7.

“I had to support theater in some way, to keep my interest in theater going,” said Wood, who’s originally from Scotland. “I got to talking to some of the actors and mentioned it’s good to get involved, to get together to read plays. After all, many had done theater, in New York and Los Angeles, and missed their classes.”

Wood also tapped Elizabeth Mitchell (Dr. Juliet Burke) and was awaiting responses from other “Lost” actors to take part in a reading of scenes from plays in HTY’s 2007-08 season, which begins in mid-August.

HTY company members will understudy the roles (because the roster is subject to change), in case of an unscheduled Sunday shooting call.

With Fox’s wife, Margherita Ronchi, Wood earlier organized six or seven actors to visit their kids’ school in Kailua for a play-reading session of “James and the Giant Peach.”

“They were really happy to read children’s plays,” Wood said. “So I asked Eric, ‘Why don’t we ask if they can come read children plays (for HTY)?’ They all loved theater because theater has touched their lives. And they were delighted that there was a children’s theater in Hawai’i.”

Wood had heard about HTY before arriving here — she had met previous HTY artistic director Peter Brosius at a children’s theater conference. During the second season of “Lost,” she took her children to an HTY performance, and the experience spurred her to get involved.

“Annie is one of the best youth theater directors in the world,” Johnson said. “She has done cutting-edge theater for young audiences.”

She founded Visible Fictions in Scotland and also worked with the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, London, groups known for their educational and youth theater.

Johnson hopes the readings by the “Lost” company will ramp up the profile of children’s literature and theater.

“So often, theater for young people is a second-class citizen to the great works of literature like Shakespeare,” he said. “But the actors’ participation really affirms our belief that the world is changing, that children’s literature is changing.”

Johnson said that Wood epitomizes what a board member can bring to the plate.

“Every board member can make a difference,” he said. “She’s given us access to these actors. Tim Bostock helped us buy a lighting board. Other board members bring classes of youngsters to our shows; board members are the core of any organization, including hours.”

Source: honoluluadvertiser.com