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by Erika Haslup, student writer


Some giants from the past camped out on stage at the Paul and Vi Loo Theatre on the Hawai‘i Loa campus Feb. 8-10: John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, played by Lee Stetson and Alan Sutterfield. The two actors, both former residents familiar to HPU playgoers, starred in Stetson’s two-man show, The Tramp and the Roughrider. Set in May 1903, it depicts a series of conversations between naturalist John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt during a four- day camping trip in the wilds of California’s Yosemite Valley.

Muir and Roosevelt were both woodsmen, but they differed on a variety of issues. Muir had arranged the camping excursion with Roosevelt in hopes of “doing some forest good,” as he explains to the former president. At the time, millions of acres of forests were being stripped by mining and lumber interests, with hardly any government supervision. After the camping trip, and before the end of his presidency, Roosevelt, protected 200 million acres of forest wilderness in 10 national parks and 66 wildlife preserves.

When he lived in Hawai‘i, Stetson founded and managed the Hawai‘i Performing Arts Company and served as artistic manager for the Hawai‘i Theatre Festival. He has acted in more than 50 major stage roles and filmed a dozen episodes of Hawai‘i 5-0. His experience and dedication to the role of Muir is felt in every line.

Sutterfield portrays Roosevelt with a vigor consistent with the president’s renowned adventurous nature. Sutterfield has performed in several HPU productions, including The Dead, The Importance of being Earnest, and The Crucible. He has embodied many famous figures in history on the stage including Custer and Captain Cook. His most recent role was in the Honolulu production King Kalakaua’s Poker Game.

After a sparse seating for Friday night’s performance, HPU’s Paul and Vi Loo Theatre filled Saturday and Sunday as word spread of the intriguing portrayal of a crucial moment in the Nation’s history. Muir’s poetic descriptions brought the Yosemite wilderness onto the stage, while Roosevelt’s boyish charm entertained the audience. Box Office Manager Terry Olival said that with each performance the crowd “built as people heard about it.”

Theater Manager Karen Archibald said that the audience included everyone from high school students who “had to go,” to theatre regulars. Archibald added that many of the theatre patrons were new to HPU’s theatre. Though The Tramp and the Roughrider brought in many new theatre patrons, there was an unfortunate absence of HPU students. Archibald said, “We’re always trying to increase the HPU student participation.” HPU theatre presents many classic works, and she believes if more HPU students got involved a new generation would be exposed to these classics.
Junior marine biology Bianca Arney, who likes going to HPU plays and loves theatre, said she was disappointed that this play was not advertised extensively.

The HPU theatre has scheduled two more plays this semester, the already-sold-out Aging is not for Sissies which played Feb. 16 and 17, as well as The Constant Wife, which opens April 4 and run through May 4.

For more information about the plays and to make reservations call 375-1282.



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