Behind the Curtain

We go to movies, we attend games at Aloha Stadium, we catch the latest musicals by our local theater groups. Behind each of these experiences are the unsung heroes. The technical directors, the ushers, the costume designers who work long and hard so that the stars shine and we, the audience, are thrilled. Devoted craftspeople behind the curtain make it all happen. Here are their stories.


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Manoa Valley Theatre technical director Benjamin Mackrell builds a set piece for an upcoming production. See profile on the next page.

Photo by: Rae Huo


Benjamin Mackrell

Manoa Valley Theatre technical director

A few years ago,  Benjamin MacKrell saw Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway and realized the impact of a technical director. “When the curtain went up at the beginning of the second act, there was a standing ovation for the set change,” says MacKrell, 24. “That was rewarding for me as someone involved in that area of theater.”

MacKrell started in September as the technical director at Manoa Valley Theatre, handling everything from lighting to set design. He’s even had to build furniture. “Sometimes you have to build pieces that you can’t find, that come with special requirements,” says MacKrell, who is building a storage box that can also be used as a printing press, a table and a boat in MVT’s upcoming production of Gutenberg! The Musical! “You wouldn’t necessarily bring these pieces home and throw them around the living room.”

Though he enjoys the spotlight, MacKrell prefers his behind-the-scene seat in the theater, where he can create art in a very practical way. He just doesn’t want the audience to notice his hard work. “If you’re distracted by what we’ve done, we’ve failed in a way. [The audience] should see a set and not think of us.”


Photo by: Dylan Dawson

E'Jay Maldonado

stylist/ creative director/ makeup artist

Sometimes being a stylist for a photo shoot means gluing Austrian crystals to a chandelier and carrying a couch through a forest after a night of heavy rains. All for one shot. That’s what E’Jay Maldonado did for a recent photo shoot for Valerie Joseph Boutique.

Since he couldn’t find the perfect pink crystal chandelier, he created his own, using parts from two different chandeliers and lots of glitter. After scouting locations in St. Louis Heights, he wound up carrying a small decorative sofa to the site. The shot, which took a couple of weeks to plan, wrapped in just 20 minutes. “It’s such a rush,” says Maldonado, a veteran makeup artist, a stylist for Amy Hanaialii Gilliom and the creative director for Body & Soul Cosmetics. “To me, I see what I do as art. When you see Valerie Joseph ads in the mall and you hear someone say, ‘That’s cool,’ it’s so worth it.”


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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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