After 18 months of disruptions, including and/or reduced productions, Hawaii’s theater groups are poised to resume normal seasons for 2021-22.
The hope, of course, is that the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and 2021 will no longer mandate the social distancing protocols or dictate small-cast shows. However, one theater group will stage its first two shows virtually, then go live with the third production; another will mix digital with live shows.
At this time, most theaters are presuming that by fall, a full-capacity season, like normal times, might be resumed instead of the half-houses during the pandemic.
Furthermore, “Jersey Boys,” the Broadway hit (and later revived off-Broadway), still is on the radar for a Hawaii run, but MagicSpace, the presenter, is still pondering actual dates. The musical, of course, showcases the music and history of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. So stay tuned…
Here’s a peek at the fall season slates around town:
DIAMOND HEAD THEATRE
The island premiere of two Broadway musicals and the revival of two others with wide audience appeal will highlight DHT’s season.
- “Oliver,” Sept. 24-Oct. 10. Set in Victorian England, the show focuses on the titular orphan boy who lives amid London thieves and pickpockets and is taken in by Fagin. “As Long as He Needs Me” and “Consider Yourself” are iconic hits from the score.
- “Elf the Musical,” Dec. 3-19. A holiday theme set in the North Pole, a toddler named Buddy finds his way into Santa’s gift bag and embarks in a journey of fellow elves. He is awful in making toys as other elves and seeks his true identity after journeying to New York.
- “Steel Magnolias,” Feb. 4-20 2022. Hairdressers know all the gossip, right, and this beauty salon in Louisiana is peopled by spunky folks, including Trudy Jones, who not only dispenses shampoo and advice, and embraces M’Lynn and her daughter Shelby, who wants a baby. Funny and heartbreaking stuff.
- “Jesus Christ Superstar,” April 1-17 2022. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s landmark musical, set during the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ, spotlights the conflicts between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, in a tale told entirely in song – a religious rock opera that boasts such blockbuster songs as “Superstar” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”
- “Waitress,” May 27-June 12 2022. Jenna, a small-town waitress who excels in pie-making puts her heart into her baked goods. Her treats reflect her life of torment and she discovers a recipe for a happier life when she discovers a baking contest in a nearby city. A Hawaii premiere.
- “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” July 22-Aug. 7 2022. Based on a Roald Dahl fantasy, this family favorite tracks a chocolate fanatic, Charlie Bucket, who is consumed in Willy Wonka’s candy factory, which offers a tour of the plant to five people who find a golden ticket in a Wonka candy bar. The show features Oompa Loompas, too. A Hawaii premiere.
Season tickets are now on sale, at 733-0274 or visit www.diamondheadtheatre.com
MANOA VALLEY THEATRE
Four Hawaii premieres are included in MVT’s eight-show season next fall; one production will be staged at the Kaimuki High School Theatre.
- “Be More Chill,” Sept. 2-19. A musical comedy fantasy by Joe Iconis (music and lyrics) with Joe Tracz (book), based on a novel by Ned Vizzini, about teenager Jeremy Heere, consumed by sci-fi and a super computer that will enable him to score a date and an invite to a lavish party, and a character called The SQUIP, a holographic manifestation of a computer chip lodged into Jeremy’s brain and motivated by Keanu Reeves. A Hawaii premiere. Note: auditions will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. July 11 and 23, by appointment only; callbacks from 6 to 8 p.m. July 13.
- “The Joy Luck Club,” Nov. 4-14. Amy Tan’s best-selling novel about four immigrant moms and their American-born daughters, adapted for the stage by Susan Kim.
- “It’s a Wonderful Life – A Radio Play,” Dec. 2-5. An African American cast performs amid a set of a radio station, reading and enacting the familiar holiday tale based on the annual Christmas film classic about a desperate and delirious banker whose life changes with the help of an angel.
- “Desperate Measures,” Jan. 13-30 2022. Based on Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” and described as a “Wild West Musical Company,” this work was delayed during covid and restored to a season slot. A Hawaii premiere.
- “The 39 Steps,” March 17-27 2022. A parody of the popular Alfred Hitchcock film, this work, laced with mystery, requires actors to portray multi-roles. A revival.
- “Cambodian Rock Band,” May 5-15 2022. A dramady by Lauren Yee, in which a Cambodian American woman and her dad, a survival of the brutal ways of Khmer Rouge, return to their homeland. A Hawaii premiere.
- “Once Upon One Time,” June 30-July 10 2022. Lisa Matsumoto’s collaboration with Roslyn Catracchia is a mashup of familiar fairy tales returns one noddah time, with pidgin patter intact. Venue: Kaimuki High School.
- “Spamilton: An American Parody,” July 7-24 2022. Gerard Alessandrini, the award-winning master of parody, pokes gentle fun at Lin-Manuel Miranda and his mega-hit “Hamilton” play, from title song to “You’ll Be Back.” An off-Broadway hit. A Hawaii premiere.
Season ticket sales begin shortly at www.manoavalleytheatre.com or call 988-6131.
HONOLULU THEATRE FOR YOUTH
With lingering issues remaining with the coronavirus pandemic, the Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s 2021-22 season will embrace live, touring and virtual productions that will enable content delivery and flexibility to segments of its academic theater community, with some performances in schools and public attendees at its Tenney Theatre home, plus four digital productions for virtual field trips.
The fall schedule:
- “The Musubi Man,” Aug. 9 for schools and Aug. 21 for the public, at Tenney Theatre. The play by Lee Cataluna is based on Sandi Takayama’s book (illustrated by Pat Hall).
Inspired by “The Gingerbread Man,” determined not to be eaten on his journey to the sea. For Pre-K students.
- “Holoholo Na Holoholona: Animals on the Go,” beginning Aug. 23 for school and public shows. Adaptations by Maki‘ilei Ishihara and the HTY Ensemble, featuring mo‘olelo (Hawaiian stories) from the wise pueo (owl) to the fearless ‘opihi (limpet), providing an introduction to Hawaiian language and culture. For grades 1 to 6.
- “Remembering John Blossom,” starting Nov. 1. A one-man show by Moses Goods, exploring the rich history of Blacks in Hawaii dating back to the early 1800s. Appropriate for school and public audiences.
“We are delighted to continue our mission of helping families and educators inspire the next generation in Hawaii and hope that by expanding the way we develop and deliver programming, we are making the work more accessible to young people,” said HTY artistic director in a statement.
Through HTY’s new membership program, educators may sign up for a free educator membership to book shows and virtual field trips. Visit www.htyweb.org or email@example.com for school reservations. Public ticketing details are forthcoming.
KUMU KAHUA THEATRE
Kumu Kahua, specializing in locally written or themed dramas and musicals, will stage its first two shows digitally; and will go live with the third production.
- “#Haoleboyfriend,” Sept. 12-19. A play by Stephanie Keiko Kong and Tony Pisculli,
about five former math geeks and high school BFF reunited 15 years graduating from Pearl City to wrestle with secrets and bouncing major life changes while enjoying guacamole at their fave karaoke joint.
- “The Kasha of Kaimuki,” Oct. 28-Nov. 14. A thriller by Hannah I’I Epstein, inspired by a famous haunted house. Sam and Amanda, a lesbian couple, move into the Kaimuki home with roommate Emily, and with friend Joseph, discover Kasha, a ghost from Japanese lore who has an insatiable appetite for blood and corpses.
- “The Conversion of Ka ‘ahumanu,” Jan. 20-Feb. 20 2022. A historical drama by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, about Lucy Thurston and Sybil Bingham arriving on Oahu in 1820, a year after Queen Ka‘ahumanu overthrew the traditional kapu system in old Hawaii. They immediately attempt their missionary task, but the queen is far more interested in their dresses than any new god and has no desire for a new religion. The women persevere, and the play explores the official adoption of Christianity in the islands.
- “Who You Again,” March 24-April 24 2022. A drama by Ryan Okinaka, about a family struggling to care for their matriarch, whose memories are stolen by dementia. Her grandson’s bond and methods help her cope, and she gives him the gift of self-acceptance.
- “Blue,” May 26-June 26 2022. A play by Wil Kahele, set in Waikiki’s Aloha Sunset Lanai, where the personal dreams and multiple jobs of a dynamic musical duo and their hula counterparts discover that sometimes, entertainment can have a profound impact, so it’s not all fun and games.
Kennedy Theatre at the University of Hawaii will only offer digital performances this fall, due to the uncertainties of the pandemic. Only months, not specific dates, are shared.
- “He Leo Aloha,” early October. A story combining the power of language to heighten communication, showcasing the Hawaiian language. A world premiere of hana keaka (Hawaiian theater); a second part will close the season, details TBA.
- “Interstellar Cinderella,” late October. A modern spin on a children’s book by Deborah Underwood, about determination and dreams.
- “Sphere,” in November. The season’s largest dance production with choreography by UH dance faculty and invitees, celebrating the genres and traditions of dance.
- “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant,” in December. A six-women cast explores class, gender, sexual power dynamics, manipulation, abuse and more.
- “Eddie Wen’ Go: the Story of the Upside-Down Canoe,” in January 2022. A giant puppetry production about the heroism of Eddie Aikau, will be told through the eyes of sea creatures.
- “Hawaii No Ka ‘Oi: A Sakamoto Celebration,” in February 2022. The plays of Edward Sakamoto will celebrate pidgin English, highlighted by excerpts from the late playwright’s beloved plays.
- “Co-Motion,” late March 2022. Two different productions of original dances by student choreographers.
- “Ho‘olina,” in May 2022. A second world premiere of Kanaka Maoli plays in the Hawaiian language, focusing on families and their future, constricted by capitalism and cultural loss.
Tickets will be available at www.ShowTix4U.com.
Late night series:
- “We Emerge,” in October.
- “Human Pavilion,” in November.
- “House Rules,” TBA.
- “Keep It Brief, a Festival of Short Works,” TBA.
THE ACTORS GROUP (TAG)
The Actors Group boasts an ambitious season, with shows staged in the Brad Powell Theatre at Dole Cannery in Iwilei.
The 2021-22 season:
- “Kimberly Akimbo,” Aug. 27-Sept. 12. David Lindsey-Abaire’s heartening and hilarious play, set in suburban New Jersey, about a teen with a rare condition causing her body to age faster than normally. When the family flees Secaucus under dubious circumstances, Kimberly is forced to reevaluate her life on conflictive turf: a hypochondriac mother, an alcoholic father, a scam-artist aunt, her own mortality and the possibility of first love.
- “Outside Mullingar,” Oct. 15-31. John Patrick Shanley, author of “Doubt” and “Moonstruck,” penned this romantic comedy, set in rural Ireland, about Anthony and Rosemary, lovelorn farmers who are clueless when it comes to love. Challenged by a bitter land feud, familial rivalries and fears of finding happiness, they learn – amid dark humor and poetic prose – that it’s never too late to take a chance on love.
- “Over the River and Through the Woods,” Dec. 3-19. A romantic comedy by Joe Pietro, a single Italian dude from New Jersey, anticipating a marketing exec job, is afraid of separation from his beloved but annoying grandparents. His parents have moved on to Florida, but can he resolve a move to Seattle?
- “Sugar in Our Wounds,” Jan. 21-Feb. 6. 2022. Donja R. Love’s play, tackling personal freedom during rumors of a forthcoming Emancipation Proclamation, is set in the South, where a mystical tree thrives that generations of slaves have been hanged on. A stranger arrives on the plantation and romance develops, amid untold stories and active imaginations.
- “The Father,” March 11-27 2022. A play by Florian Zeller, about Andre, now 80 and a one-time tap dancer, who lives with daughter Anne and her husband Antoine. Or was Andre an engineer, whose daughter lives in London with her new beau Pierre? He wonders if he’s losing his wits.
- “Other Desert Cities,” April 29-May 5 2022.I A play by Jon Robin Baitz, about Brooke Wyeth, who returns home to Palm Springs after six-year absence, to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother, and her aunt. She announces she soon will publish a memoir, dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history, a wound most don’t want reopened.
- “Qualities of Starlight,” June 17-July 3 2022. Playwright Gabriel Jason Dean’s tale is about Theo Turner, a young cosmologist on the verge, whose universe explodes when he and his wife travel to the Appalachian South to visit his aging parents, only to discover that they are now meth addicts. The troubled family must sort out and improvise its path into the future.
- “Good People,” Aug. 5-21 2022. David Lindsey-Abaire play, set in Southie, a Boston neighborhood, where a night on the town means a few rounds of bingo, where this month’s paycheck covers last month’s bills. Maggie Walsh has been let go from another job, so the tale explores and magnifies the struggles of survival and the quest for tomorrow.
Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” a popular Broadway comedy by the prolific playwright, had been announced then postponed because of the pandemic, but is on board to finally be staged June 16 2022 through June 26 2022. Joe Moore and Pat Sajak reunite again, with Moore as Willie Clark and Sajak as Al Lewis; in real life, the actors are former Army buddies — Moore has been a long-time KHON2 news anchor and Sajak is the award-winning host of “Wheel of Fortune.” Bryce Moore makes his professional stage debut in the shadow of his actor dad.
And that’s “Show Biz.”…
3 Replies to “ISLE THEATERS SET 2021-2022 SEASONS”
Wayne, your fall season theatre slate is very helpful in getting a picture of what’s coming up in local theatre. Mahalo!
HI Wayne, we wish you had contacted Kailua Onstage Arts/KOA Theater regarding our exciting season in our new downtown/Kaka’ako space. Our family-friendly circus show ASTRA wraps up this weekend and next weekend we open AN OAK TREE by Tim Crouch (Aug 6-22), followed by our 4th annual haunted house, and then 7 more challenging and engaging shows follow through June of 2022, not to mention all the dark night offerings we are hosting. Please bookmark our web page http://www.koatheater.com to stay abreast of all that’s going on!
Sorry; didn’t know about your existence/endeavors; hadn’t received anything from your organization and don’t recall seeing/reading anything on your guys.
Thanks for flagging my unintended neglect, but FYI, most of the data I worked with was submitted for consideration. Apologies.