Two generations of the Tihati ‘ohana share their rarely-discussed stories of love and faith on “Living Hope,” New Hope Hawaii’s new TV magazine series airing this holiday season.
The Tihati founders, Jack and Cha Thompson, open up their home and hearts, along with their successors, Afatia Thompson and Misty Thompson Tufono, in conversations with hosts John Tilton and Dawn O’Brien, in seven unprecedented screenings this weekend (see box), the second of a new series of programming.
“It’s about good news in challenging times,” said Tilton, new leader of New Hope and a former employee of Tihati Productions, about Tihati’s struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down operations for more than 18 months until the company’s Polynesian shows reopened when visitors finally started to arrive in Hawaii.
Thus, it’s a rare glimpse of dad and mom and son and daughter, revealing how their Tihati Productions company – the state’s and world’s largest entertainment-producing organization for 52 years – is deeply rooted in religion and family values.
Faith is the glue that bonds the Tihati tradition; commitment to ‘ohana is the framework of its success.
As Cha declares about the religious orientation, “Give to the Lord first and he will come through.”
As Jack remembers, “We have to thank someone or something,” about their good fortunes then and now.
Their revelations suit the theme of New Hope’s series of “Living Hope,” with pastor Tilton and Dawn O’Brien co-hosting.
God and prayers have been part of the Tihati spirit for decades, when inspiration hit the Farrington High School sweethearts one night. They went shopping/searching for a church, and set anchor at a Pearl Harbor home of worship. Since then, the church is where there is a need, like hotel show spaces where performers conduct Bible studies and offer prayers before and following each performance.
As Jack “Tithai” puts it, “we give to the Lord first and he would come through,” a sentiment that has prevailed ever since the company was launched. Through his South Seas Christian Ministry, Tihati has provided support and kokua to independent Samoa for 34 years, arranging for natives to receive medical supplies, creating water tanks to families, and building or rebuilding churches to continue the work of God.
‘LIVING HOPE’ AIRDATES
12:30 p.m. Dec. 24, KITV
6:30 p.m. Dec. 24, KHII
8:30 p.m. Dec. 25, KHON
10:30 p.m. Dec. 25, KITV
9:30 a.m. Dec. 26, CW
6:30 p.m. Dec. 26, KHII
10:30 p.m. Dec. 26, KHON
Son Afatia, now Tihati president, and his sister Misty, now vice president, continue the gift of caring and giving, having lived and learned the ways of Tihati as youngsters with ringside seats growing up in a show biz family. “Being onstage, growing up in hotels…we thought that was normal,” says Misty.
“God has helped us weather this storm (of the pandemic) and we remain faithful in his plan,” says Afatia.
Misty says Psalm 46:10 in the Bible – “Be still” – is her inspiration. “In the fear, we will worship.” she explains.
The show includes a few vintage photos of Jack and Cha, back in the day, and should have included an archival clip of a live Tihati performance to provide visual evidence of the pulse of the company’s livehood: hula, mele, otea from the Polynesian resources that give the Tihati brand a sound and moving foundation.
However, there’s live music, to conclude the TV chat, as Afa sings “I Will Worship” on the front lawn of his parents’ Portlock home, surrounded by ‘ohana singing, dancing (Cha, in a sit-down hula from a queen’s chair), or listening on the front porch. For the holiday season, and befitting the Tihati message: a family that plays together, stays together, and prays together …
And that’s Show Biz. …