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Thanks to Hawaii’s community thespians, there’s plenty of opportunity for visitors to watch a play or a musical during their stay. Even though the performances don’t make it onto the “big stage” of the Hawaii Theatre or the Neal Blaisdell Center doesn’t mean they aren’t good shows. In fact, many of these small, local productions have won national awards; their actors continuing on in the L.A. and New York spotlights.
“ Oklahoma” was one of many local productions in community theater.
The lead roles in Wicked and Funny Girl started out in Hawaii’s community theater scene years ago – only to return when the shows stopped in the islands. You can bet that it’s always big news when they do, too. Local media write about them, or the performers end up on the morning news. The audience just loved when Hawaii-born Cliffton Hall of Wicked held up the double shakas after each show. To that, they gave him a standing ovation.
Hall got his start with the Castle Performing Arts Center (CPAC), which is a program that caters to students going to schools in the windward O’ahu district. My younger sister got a chance to perform in a musical when she was in the sixth grade, and most recently, my niece. It’s a wonderful program that gives kids a head start in finding their passion for theater.
Like most community plays, CPAC shows take place at a local high school auditorium. Others make their debut at Diamond Head Theatre, like the musical Funny Girl. The lead, who played Fanny Brice, also went to a Hawaii high school.
Hawaii-born Isabelle Decauwert starred in the hit broadway “Funny Girl.”
Watching a community play gets visitors out of the mainstream and into the core of Hawaii’s theater scene. The best part is that there’s usually a different show going on every month, so there’s lots to choose from.
Photo Courtesy (second): Diamond Head Theatre