New Kahilu Theatre brings it on
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“He would be so happy,” said Barbara Campbell of Waimea, speaking of the late Richard Smart at Kahilu Theatre’s pre-opening reception on Friday. She and husband Charles fondly remember watching Smart perform on the stage he built in 1981 until his last curtain call in 1991.
In September, after a one-year “intermission” for budget and organizational re-boot, the Theatre will present its 2013-14 season with 22 different performances, and an innovative new approach to ticket sales and community engagement.
“We signed up for all this,” said Campbell, indicating posters for the Hawaiian music series that kicks off with Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole and Kekuhi Kanahele on September 21.
“The Hawaiian music series is fabulous; I want to go to all of them,” said Phyllis Tarail of Waimea, frequent theater-goer with husband Joel Cohen.
“We just became members so we’re trying to decide what else to see,” she said. “I’m really pleased they changed the pricing, so you can see some shows for $20, and so more people can come.”
“I spent all afternoon on the internet, looking up You Tube videos for the other artists that I wasn’t as familiar with,” said Campbell. “They have some wonderful performers on tap.”
From Hawaii Island, Grammy winning Honokaa Jazz Band and the Kona Music Society share an eclectic schedule with blues and bluegrass, Celtic, cirque, and classical piano, dance by Rhythmic Circus and Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys, plus other quality performing artists from Hawaii and around the world.
“I’m thrilled that Kahilu Theatre is reopening,” said Stephanie Donoho, tourism specialist with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Hawaii Product Enrichment Program. “I’m of course most excited about the Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Institute (Nov. 15-16) because we are sponsors, but personally, I’m also really looking forward to the Keb’ Mo’ concert.”
“I’m really excited about ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’” said board member Jane Sibbett (who will direct “The Vagina Monologues” at Kahilu again next spring). “When I saw it in New York I was flat-out across three seats laughing so hard,” said Sibbett. “The man behind me said to be quiet.”
“I love it because it’s a great musical,” said board member Beth Bornstein Dunnington who will direct Tony-winning “Spelling Bee” in January. “It’s very kid-friendly and we can use teens in the cast.”
The first Kahilu-produced musical since Richard Smart trod the boards 22 years ago will hold open auditions later this year, and young actors are particularly encouraged to come and read.
Michael Bonahan, board vice president of external affairs, said that he’s looking forward to all of the performances, particularly world music and “historical music.” To him, with the exception of our excellent Hawaiian music, the community doesn’t often have access to concerts that are deeply-rooted, culturally.
“In music you find the cultural underpinnings that are crucial to all cultures—soul, heart, integrity, expression, emotion,” said Bonahan. “Young people look to pop culture, television, the Internet, and get stuff that is packaged for them; they’re not going to see the truth.”
Truth is, Kahilu is back. After listening to community input and a serious re-energization, they are now more than ever ready to share the arts with Waimea.
“Richard Smart created the Theatre for Waimea and that means all of Waimea,” said board member Zaheva Knowles. “We encourage people who haven’t been here before to come and experience Kahilu Theatre—and bring the kids. We have a whole series of kid-friendly shows.”
Kahilu’s new three-tier membership allows for discounted tickets, exclusive events and other opportunities. Family memberships start at $50 for two adults and two children. Some tickets for all performances will be available for $20 or less. Season tickets, build-your-own “mini season” tickets, memberships and tickets to individual shows will be available for sale online starting tomorrow, Friday Aug. 9, at www.kahilutheatre.org.