Live theatrical performances are unique in the spirit, energy and connection that develop between the actors and musicians and the audience. There is always an element of the unknown and an excitement in watching the magic unfold. The tradition of live theater and musical performance has long been celebrated and upheld in Hawaii. Here are the 9 best places to catch a production in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Theatre does not focus exclusively on live theatre, though there are definitely regular performances that come through. The theater itself is beautiful, so if you happen to notice a theatrical performance that catches your eye on their calendar, make sure you take advantage of this venue.
Manoa Valley Theatre is off-the-beaten path, outside of crowded Honolulu, and is a more rustic experience than some of the larger, well known venues. First established several decades ago as a community workplace for artists, it has grown to produce plays and musicals from Broadway and Off-Broadway. Praised for its production quality and performances, though with less sophisticated sound quality and stage design perhaps, this theatre certainly delivers wonderful live shows driven by dedicated Hawaiian talent.
Hawaii Opera Theatre (HOT) presents a wide range of world-class opera and musical theatre and attracts talent from such famous venues as the New York Met. Elaborate custom sets and scenery are often designed for performances and the local chorus will rehearse for months in preparation for a main stage production.
Commonly referred to as “The Broadway of the Pacific,” the Diamond Head Theatre’s past productions include “Les Miserables,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “The Wedding Singer.” This is the third-oldest continually-operating theater in the United States, beginning its legacy with a performance of “The Amazons” by Pinero, performed at the original Honolulu Opera House. Each season, the Diamond Head offers six main stage theatrical productions, five of which are typically major musicals. If you are visiting Oahu and get a craving for Broadway, this is the spot!
This historical local theatre is an intimate and casual environment where you have the opportunity to mingle with the actors before and after performances. Productions range from comedic to musical, with past performances including “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “The Rocky Horror Show.” Kainaliu is a charming little town about 15 minutes south of Kona—grab tickets for one of their shows and have a bit to eat at one of the tasty restaurants nearby.
The Actors Group (TAG) fills a specific niche in Hawaii live theater, one that focuses on live productions in an intimate setting and a diverse range of productions. You can purchase a season ticket for six shows for $120, which is a great deal for those who love live theater but are on a tight budget.
Kahilu Theatre in Waimea presents a wide range of live performances, from talented musicians to ballet to musical theater. The theatre prides itself on being a place “where community, creativity and inspiration thrive.”
Voted “Best Live Theater” on Maui, this theater opened in 1928 and has Spanish Mission-style architecture. Maui Community Theater, which does business as Maui OnStage, has occupied the theater since 1984 and the theater has undergone major renovations since the mid-1990s. The theater also hosts classes, workshops and one night only events, so make sure to check their calendar.
The Kauai Community Players’ mission statement is “to entertain, educate, enlighten and stimulate the community through quality live theatre, including related theatre arts.” Past productions include “Romeo and Juliet,” “Grease,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”