A major part of Hawaii’s culture is acting, drama, and performance. Ancient Hawaiians performed recitals and rituals during religious ceremonies, as well as for entertainment. Present day acting troupes similarly capture audiences with their performances, offering plenty of opportunities for vacationers to enjoy the theater.
History of Hawaiian Theater
One of the major venues for theater on the islands is the Hawaii Theater. Located in Honolulu, the Hawaii Theater was built in 1922 and was the primary venue for Hawaii’s performing arts and film. With the arrival of television on the scene in the 1950s, the interest in theater and film declined in Hawaii, and the Hawaii Theater closed down in 1984. The building was protected from demolition, prior to other arrangements, by the Aloha Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. The ACATOS remained interested in the theater because of residence of the Robert Morton Unified Orchestra Theatre Organ.
Another group who worked to keep the Hawaii Theater from being demolished was Hawaii Theater Center. Comprised of concerned citizens, the group acquired the theater and enough land to keep it intact. The Hawaii Theater was kept open, but it operated on a limited basis until it closed for renovation in 1989.
After extensive renovations by Malcolm Holzman of Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates, the Hawaii Theater reopened on April 26, 1996. Since its re-dedication and reopening, the theater has once again become one of the island’s main venues for theatrical performances, concerts, national touring shows, and other events.
In 2004, construction to the facade and other architectural details completed the Hawaii Theater’s restoration. The theater is a tribute to the entire Hawaiian community, meant for both islanders and visitors alike to enjoy the cultural wonders of Hawaii’s performing arts.
Venues and Events by Island
Though they share the same theater and performing arts culture, each of the Islands of Aloha has their own events and celebrations. Here are some of the most popular theatrical performances and venues by island:
Vacationers can visit the Maui Theater to enjoy one of Hawaii’s most lively and entertaining cultural experiences called the “Ulalena.” The “Ulalena” is a 75-minute long performance of singing, dancing, live music, and acrobatic feats that have been inspired by the Cirque de Soleil. The cast of 20 singers and dancers, along with an orchestra of five musicians, perform a combination of native songs and stories with amazing acts of balance and agility. Along with the dramatic performance, the stage is rigged up with high-tech equipment that gives an introduction into Hawaii’s fascinatingly diverse and rich culture. Spectators can watch the show in auditorium seating, while enjoying tasty concessions as well as beer and wine. If you want to have something more than just a snack, dinner-theater packages are available in connection with upscale Lahaina restaurants. To make your reservations, which are a necessity, call 808-661-9913 on the island, or 877-688-4800 toll free.
While visiting Maui, travelers should be sure to include Warren and Annabelle’s as one of their special entertainment options. At this glamorous nightclub, you will be swept away by hysterical comedy and the awe-inspiring magic tricks of Magician Warren Gibson. The décor here includes red carpets and a glistening mahogany bar adorned with enticing a la carte appetizers like coconut shrimp and crab cakes, as well as decadent desserts like rum cake and crème brulee. This is adult entertainment, with no one under the age of 21 allowed in the nightclub. For more information, and essential reservations call 808-667-6244.
There are several performing arts venues on Kauai, as well as drama troupes. One of the talented groups on the island is the Kauai Community Players, which presents plays throughout the year. The main venue for the performing arts on the island is Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center, hosting a number of dramatic productions and special events.
Lanai isn’t the most exciting spot for entertainment or theater. But during your visit, you can still enjoy the performing arts on this quiet island. The Lanai Theater and Playhouse seats 153 people, and has various film productions and film showings. Opened in the 1930s, it’s one of the island’s landmarks.
Hawaii is rich in culture, and theater is an expression of the rich heritage of the islands. So for a cultural and entertaining experience during your Hawaii vacation, go see a play or visit one any of the islands’ theater venues.