120 Judge John Aiso St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Set on the island of Maui in the 1930s, Lee Tonouchi's drama tells the little-known story of schoolteacher Soichi Sakamoto, who took a group of youngsters from the sugar plantations and forged them into a world-class Olympic swim team. It's one of those feel-good sports tales that tugs at the heart, even though it's somewhat predictable. Blake Kushi does the honors as the determined coach who, without the use of a pool, trained his charges in plantation irrigation ditches. As the aspiring Olympians, Jared Asato, Kelsey Chock, Mapuana Makia and Chris Takemoto-Gentile invest their characters with infectious energy and humor, despite the fact that at times the pidgin English they speak is hard to understand. As the sole female member, Makia brings a convincing edge of attitude and confidence to her role. A large part of the enjoyment of this play is watching the cast "swim," which director-choreographer Keo Woolford has cleverly envisioned as mimicking the rhythm and movements of hula dancing. Adam Fleming's island-inspired set is handsome. East West Players, David Henry Hwang Theater, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., dwntwn.; Wed.-Sat., 8.p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.; through March 11. (213) 625-7000, eastwestplayers.org.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Feb. 9. Continues through March 11, 2012