Windward Readers Theatre, a fixture at Pohai Nani retirement residence in Kaneohe for many years, will launch its 9th Readers Theatre season Aug. 8 at a new location, the Brad Powell Theatre at TAG, The Actors Group at the  Dole Cannery complex in Iwilei.

WRT, championed by the remarkably tireless director  Vanita Rae Smith and a booster of the Readers Theatre format, has played to intimate audiences for years.  Smith scheduled Readers Theatre for 12 years, which were Sunday afternoon sessions at the Army Community Theatre’s Richardson Theatre at Ft. Shafter, for 12 seasons, where Smith was artistic director of 24 years of musical theater successes under the auspices of the U.S. Army.

Vanita Rae Snith

The Readers format meant that elite and discriminating viewers would huddle on seats on the mainstage, where some of Hawaii’s legendary names would rely on the words of playwrights of works to bring drama to life, with listeners bringing their imagination to the plate.

Now the format will still be targeting readers and listeners alike, in the modest but effective TAG space. These theatrical Dark Night selections  — meaning attractions staged during the usual non-show evenings — will be embraced as part of TAG’s new season, with tickets at a modest $20 price.

Dwight Martin

The premier Readers Theatre vehicle at TAG will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – Aug. 8, 9 and 10 – with Dwight Martin, former Manoa Valley Theatre producing director, embracing John Barrymore, in William Luce’s “Barrymore” directed by Smith. The piece is filled with tension and surprises, surrounding the film and stage star, in the grips of advanced alcoholism, prepping for a production of “Richard III,” and reflecting on his multifaceted life, loves and legendary statue, a leading man on the brink of his last hurrahs.

“The last time we did a Readers Theatre at Pohai Nani was in March of 2020, and the auditorium there has been shut down since,” said Smith of the pandemic that closed nearly everything. “We didn’t charge an admission at Pohai Nani, and had a plate for donations, which went to them to cover expenses (of producing fees).

“Our new home at TAG will broaden the horizon of Readers Theatre, which are oral interpretations that fits the spirit at our new location,” said Smith, who has assembled  a slate of Readers Theatres scripts which amount to a legitimate “season.”

Also in the Readers Theatre agenda:

* Jo Pruden, portraying Lillian Hellman in  William Luce’s “Lillian,” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26, 27 and 28. Replaces an earlier-announced Bronte work. Directed by Smith.

* Alan Shepherd’s “Mary and Joe,” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, 5, 10, 11, 12. Featuring Shepherd, Amy K. Sullivan, Christine Umipeg and others. Directed by Shepherd.

* Agatha Christie’s “Murder, Margaret, and Me,” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, 24 and 25. Featuring Jo Pruden, Shari Lynn and Eden Lee Murray. Directed by Smith.

*  “Sea Marks,” based on a memoir of Gardner McKay, at 7:30 p.m. May 29, 30 and 31, 2023. Featuring Annie Rennick and Peter Clark. Directed by Smith. …  

Dark Night Readers Theatre shows require an additional admission, apart from the fees of TAG’s weekend shows.

TAG’s 2022-23 season launches with David Lindsey-Abaire’s “Good People,” directed by Peggy Anne Sigmund,  opening  at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Aug. 5), with performances Thursdays through Sundays through Aug, 21 (2 p.m. curtain on Sundays). Tickets are $35 adults, $25 seniors and $20 students and military. Visit or call (808( 722-6941. TAG requires viewers to don facemasks at all of its shows. …

Broadway grosses, for week ending July 31

The leaders still lead, in the roster of box office champs, but the dollars are fewer at least for now.

“The Music Man” still is No. 1, grossing $2.940 million, but not over the top of $3 million for much of its run to date. So Hugh Jackman is still the Money Man, too.

“Hamilton” again is No. 2, demonstrating it’s still a hottie in the room where it happens, pulling in $2.246 million.

“The Lion King” still has its roar, at No.3 and $2.166 million.

The list is courtesy the Broadway League. And note that the charts now show the rundown by grosses, not alphabetically. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

Leave a Reply