Moniz, Fernandez, Law and Tibbetts lead cast of HPAF’s ‘Company’

From June 24 through July 21, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival will present nearly 20 public performances at a number of notable island venues from Kona to Hilo, featuring both student and faculty artists.

HPAF will produce Stephen Sondheim’s 1970s musical comedy, “Company.” Two performances are slated for this weekend. The first show is at 7 p.m. Friday at Hilo’s Palace Theatre and the second show will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at The Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.

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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.”

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,” said 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.

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The production will be accompanied by a full orchestra.

Tickets are available via the HPAF website or through the Palace Theatre at 934-7010 and Kahilu Theatre at 885-6868. For a full list of HPAF’s summer offerings and more information, please visit www.hawaiiperformingartsfestival.org.

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