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Summer Stars 2017

Congratulations on a FANTASTIC Summer Stars 2017 Session!


To download a PDF version of the Showcase Gala/Lion King, Jr. poster for printing, please click this link: Lion King Poster

You may also click on the poster image to download a copy for posting on your favorite social media sites.






AM Program Photos

Meet our 2017 Summer Stars Staff:

AM Staff:

Carol Culver, AM Dance Instructor

Carol Culver has been a professional dancer, singer, actress since she was 17. She has appeared on Broadway, TV and in film, and has choreographed for stage, TV, film, rock videos and commercials. She has coached and choreographed many celebrities including John Travolta, Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson, and Treat Williams. Among the movies she can be seen in are Steven Spielberg’s 1941, Pennies From Heaven, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the original movie Grease. The show Grease has played a very large role in Carol’s career. She played Patty Simcox in both the National Tour and Broadway companies and was assistant choreographer to Pat Birch for all the touring companies and the feature film in which she was also a featured dancer. She directed and choreographed productions of Grease for San Diego Starlight, the Carolina Broadway Theatre Company, and here on Kauai in 2005. Her choreography has been seen on Kauai in over 20 musical theatre productions. She was the KPAC resident choreographer from 2001 to 2012, and choreographs often for Hawaii Children’s Theatre. She choreographed Miss Saigon for Lucky Dog productions at KCC, directed and choreographed Mary Poppins for HCT and will be directing and choreographing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for HCT this fall. Carol taught dance in both Illinois and Los Angeles before moving to Kauai in 1998 to finish her book, Once In Time (currently in audiobook form). She has been teaching dance on Kauai since 2000.

Cary Valentine, AM Workshop Instructor, Rhythm

Cary Valentine is an award-winning international drummer/percussionist and graduate of the Berklee College of Music. He has performed and recorded with luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie and members of REO Speedwagon, Ambrosia, Kenny Chesney and Lionel Richie’s bands. He’s travelled extensively throughout South America: Bolivia, Peru, the Amazon Jungle, Machu Picchu and Brazil where he performed with many top performers. He is frequently performing with numeous bands and facilitates a world music and drumming residency (sponsored by the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts) in elementary schools on Kaua’i.

Cary is also a best-selling, award-winning author, certified relationship and inner game coach, motivational speaker, radio show host and newspaper columnist. He’s been a frequent guest on ABC & CBS Radio Networks and featured in the San Francisco Chronicle & Honolulu Advertiser. For over a decade Cary has been sharing his patent pending Turn Your Doubts Inside Out peak performance system to students, business owners, sales teams, real estate agents, pro golfers, world class musicians and actors; who point to their increased confidence, success and vitality from incorporating his system. Cary’s passion is contagious, as he’s compassionately assisted multitudes of people around the globe.

Alan Van Zee, AM Music Instructor

Alan Van Zee has been involved in the music and theater scene on Kauai since moving here in 1987.  The first half of his life, Alan lived in the U.S., Mexico, England and Japan, and received his bachelor’s degree in music theory and performance.  Since coming to Kauai, he has worked with Hawaii Children’s Theatre, Kauai Performing Arts Center, Kauai Academy of Creative Arts, Kauai Community Players and organizations.  Alan is experienced at directing, accompanying and performing music with children from young to teen aged as well as adults.  



Laurel Petterson McGraw

 Bobbee Downs was the first Artistic Director and co-founder of HCT, which was preceded by Kauai Kids at Play, beginning in 1987. A graduate of Yale University Children’s Theatre program, she brings forty years of experience to the program. She’s old! Though retired she is always interested in the ongoing development of the aesthetic values and activities for kids in HCT. With an undergraduate degree in Hair & Makeup she loves coming back once a year for this workshop. Having directed over 300 productions she still finds it amazing to get paid to play!

Dolly Kanekuni has been mastering voice her whole life.  Born in Italy and raised in Ohio, where she was active in theatre, choral ensemble and solo singing, Dolly received many awards from state performance competitions at an early age. She spent 15 years in Los Angeles, where she studied with Seth Riggs and was one of the founding members of his legendary Speech Level Singing Technique Teacher’s Association, served on their Education Management Team and taught vocal technique at the SLS International Summer Performance Camp for 8 years. Dolly moved to Kauai to raise a family and has been working with students here and remotely worldwide for 25 years. She’s worked with every theatre company on Kauai as either Musical Director or vocal coach and her students continue to reach their vocal goals. She serves as President of the Hawaii Children’s Theatre and performs at special events, in musical theatre and with several local bands.

Bailey Hutton, AM Program Director/PM Production Manager

Bailey Hutton has been involved with Hawaii Children’s Theatre for many years, both on and off the stage. He joined the staff of Summer Stars in 2009, he began working stage crew for ‘Willy Wonka’, was the Assistant Director of ‘Scrooge, the Musical’, appeared as Thenardier in ‘Les Miserables’ and Franz in ‘The Sound of Music’. Bailey worked as Stage Manager for ‘Shrek, the Musical’, in 2014 and ‘Mary Poppins’ in 2015, he worked as a Production Stage Manager for “School of Rock” in 2016. He’s also appeared as an actor in many shows with KCP and WIT, he is currently serving as President for Kauai Community Players.  He currently works as a Realtor for Keller Williams Kauai. He’s looking forward to creating a magical summer with our Summer Stars students!


Nellie Foster, AM Acting Instructor

Nell Foster has been an Island resident nearly nine years and many of us are familiar with her work as an actress in The Complete History of America: Abridged, Odd Couple: The Female Version, The Dixie Swim Club and Christmas Bells. Her latest accomplishment is the recent direction of the well-received Talley’s Folly for KCP.

It is no exaggeration to describe Nell as a Renaissance woman. She does it all. With a whirlwind of energy and experience she has acted and directed professionally, academically and in community theatres; she has designed and built sets & costumes; Stage Managed and even taught acting for elementary school students. Nell is currently a Board Member for Kauai Community Players and President of the Board for Women in Theatre.

When we asked her why she was interested in working with our youth she was quick to offer: “That is often where the passion for theatre begins. It is our job as professionals or volunteers to nurture that passion in a safe, friendly and supportive environment. We not only want our youth to learn more about life and themselves, we want to develop them a knowledge and interest in theatre that brings them back for more. It doesn’t matter if they come back as participants or as audience members. We want them back! I am honored to be asked to work in this capacity and look forward to making many new “Summer Star” friends.”
Wendy Casillas has returned to her home island about 7 years ago and is now a kindergarten teacher at Koloa Elementary School.  She brings energy, organization, and creativity to Summer Stars!  Her theater experience is behind the scenes.  She has been involved in Kalaheo Elementary School program for the past 6 years learning how to work the mics, publicity and has been the production manager for the past 4 years.  Although never acting on stage, Wendy loves to entertain and has danced hula for 20+ years in many luaus and shows  on Kauai, in California and Japan, as well as in Hilo in the Merrie Monarch competition.  The art of hula has taught her that discipline, dedication, presentation, and the feeling from within makes for great entertainers!  Her three children have all been involved in Hawaii Children’s Theater over the last 5 years (you may know them from James and the Giant Peach as Grasshopper, Spider, and Earthworm) and appreciates what the arts have done for them.  She is happily married to Dante and is thankful that he supports all of “her” projects she takes on and “happily” volunteers alongside her (wink wink).


Ariana Franks, originally from Maui, grew up in a musical family with a love for the arts and performing. In her church home of King’s Cathedral and Chapels, she has been given many opportunities in singing, hula, acting and even, in recent years, directing and teaching. Ariana graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, MO where she earned a BFA in Theatre Arts & Music.  She interned at the Okoboji Summer Theatre in Okoboji Iowa – spending most of her time acting in their ‘Boji Bantam Children’s Theatre. Here on Kauai, when Ariana is not working at Family Life Center or teaching voice, she loves to volunteer at King’s Chapel teaching guitar and being Artistic Director for their seasonal performances. She has also had the privilege of stage managing for Marly Madayag and Kalaheo Elementary’s Theater Club for their performances of Peter Pan, and The Little Mermaid.

PM Staff:


Rebecca Hanson, PM Director

Rebecca Hanson returns for her fourth year directing for the Summer Stars afternoon program.  Lion King has always been one of her favorite Disney stories from the script to the music so she is excited to bring it to the stage this year!  She currently works with Island School as a 4th grade teacher and participates in theater in Kauai throughout the year.  Some of her most recent projects include Little Shop of Horrors (Director and Choreographer), Monty Python’s Spamalot (co-director and choreographer), The Rainmaker (Lizzie Curry), and of course Summer Stars James and the Giant Peach, Jr., Alice In Wonderland, Jr, and The Wizard of Oz.     




Cher Ellwood, PM Ensemble Instructor

Cher Ellwood has always loved to dance, sing, act, and write for stage and/or film!  In 1977, after receiving a BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, NY, Cher embarked on an eight-year dancing career performing in musical revues in Las Vegas, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, and Japan. In 1986, she earned her MA in Communications from Regent University, VA, and in 2013, her EdD in Education from Grand Canyon University, AZ.  No matter what else Cher has been doing in her life, she has always had one foot in theater and/or film.

Since Cher moved to Kaua’i in 2009, she has performed with Kaua’i Chorale, Kaua’i Voices, and Kaua’i Community Players and worked as a technical assistant for Miss Saigon and Carnival.  She has also taught scriptwriting at KCC.  She taught acting classes for KPAC, and choreographed KPAC’s Spring productions of Legally Blonde and Nice Work If You Can Get It.  

Cher is no stranger to HCT. In addition to sitting on the HCT Board, she has also taught stage movement and choreographed the HCT Summer Star productions of the Wizard of Oz and James and the Giant Peach.  She is beyond excited to have this opportunity to participate in the 2017 HCT Summer Stars Program and production of Lion King

Nina Saraos, PM Music Instructor

Nina Saraos, who grew up on Kauai, had no idea she’d be in this deep into theatre after graduating from college. Most recently she served as the musical director for KCP’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Last summer Nina was the musical director for James and the Giant Peach and she is happy to be returning for this year’s Summer Stars production of The Lion King Jr. She will also be the musical director for HCT After Dark’s 2017 production of Lucky Stiff. Nina currently teaches piano at Kauai High School and assists with the band and chorus program. If Nina is not making music, she’s either in cooking, baking, getting lost in 4100 pages of the Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time or cleaning her fountain pens.



Daphne Sanchez