“This Is Me,” an I’m a Bright Kid Foundation (IABKF) youth-centric  musical, is a declaration of incandescence, featuring teens who spent several weeks learning the essence of the theatrical experience.

Playing four times only – Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, and at 2 p.m. Sunday (July 30) at the Paliku Theatre at the Windward Community College —  “This Is Me” is profoundly and personally a reflection of growing up, mixing appropriate tunes mirroring  each kid’s take on the why’s and how’s of crossing the bridge from kid to teens, while simultaneously shaping a live show in a legitimate performance space.

Mentored by a dedicate corps of teachers, the kids express their “me” in the mentoring process, singing, dancing, and enacting what ultimately is a memorable shared experience in the making of a show.

The I’m a Bright Kid Foundation’s youthful cast : all shapes and sizes.

Oh, what charm and fun. There is no single star in this shimmering galaxy; all lads and lasses are equals and bring singular bursts of joy in declaring their individual “me.” The 40-plus in the ensemble come in all ages and sizes, with varying degrees of experience on stage, and it’s exhilarating when the entire troupers are whirling, kicking, dancing with cyclonic strength, bodies moving in circles of energy.

Diversity is an undercurrent, with a mixed plate of voices and faces – white, black, Asian and surely hapa-this or that —  which distinguishes the show’s sheen and style.

Led by artistic director Jade Stice, herself an accomplished stage professional and  backed by a team of musical (David James Boyd), vocal (Moku Durant, Sarahlea Kekuna) and choreographic (Lisa Herlinger-Thompson, Annie Yoshida) adult directors, the show is an IABKF trademark.

Youthful participants in grades 3 to 12 interpret a number of known and not-so-famous tunes with kaleidoscopic vigor,  yielding a genuine, heart-tugging reflection of growing up amid the angst and aspirations of finding their place in life’s journey.

Some kids are terrific singers, others not so accomplished, but certainly eager to share and  try, best exhibited in Colbie Callait’s “Try,” fueled with wistful wonderment. The tone is try, but don’t overdo the effort; do the best you can.

“Landslide,” the Fleetwood Mac entry, features a trio of older girls (Faith Morrow, Zoe Naso, Moana Simmons) taking turns with a trio of younger girls (Alana French, Aria Kuboyama,  Kamren Neste) synchronizing voices and perspectives about girlhood.

“I’ll Stand by You,” a song by The Pretenders, is a joyous buddy number, delivered with powerful sense of loyalty, by Ezekiel Kekuna and Ezra Kekuna, with Oziah Wurlitzer on keyboard.

One of the hysterically funny numbers is a rap/hip-hop take on Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” with Noe Kaimu loa, the Kekuna brothers, Damian Mendez and keyboarder Wurlitzer gyrating with obvious joy and intensity.

Similarly, the kids are in vogue with a mashup of “Express Yourself” and “Born This Way,” putting their youthful harmonies and movements to the Madonna and Lady Gaga signatures.

“Me” matters in “This Is Me.” This is a rehearsal shot. (Courtesy IABKF)

A series of “I Am” monologues interspersed within the larger production numbers, with single or group revelations about hope, fear, loves, hates and other challenging idiosyncrasies of teenhood.

The show’s  title tune – the soul-moving, self-assuring song popularized by local girl Keala Settle in the Hugh Jackson musical film, “The Greatest Show,” is the perfect vehicle to bring out the best of the cast. Every “me” matters.
The concept of the summer musical is the seventh in the IABKF series, led by Allan Lau, a dedicated fulltime teacher and the theater group’s current  president. David James Boyd, the morning program director, helped shape the daytime sessions with the youngsters that evolved into the cast now doing the show. Ligaya Stice, sister of Jade, is the IABKF executive director, who continues to run the office and makes certain the spirit and inspiration of the late Ron Bright continue to be the lightning rod for developing future theater talent ….

And that’s Show Biz. …

‘This is Me’

A presentation of the I’m A Bright Kid Foundation, to perpetuate the legacy of the beloved teacher-director, Ron Bright

When: final performance at 2 p.m. today (July 30)

Where: Paliku Theatre, at the Windward Community College

Tickets:  $13 to $28, at https://www.showtix4u.com/events/24380/?event=75386&date=200187

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