Spring Arts Theater

Spring Arts Theater
Boeing, Boeing gets complicated at MVT.
Image: Malia Leinau

Honolulu’s spring theater season is packed with juxtapositions.

Spring Arts Theater / Spring Arts Theater

Plop a Picasso beside a Degas. Mount a Rothko next to a Rembrandt in the middle of a medieval triptych and see if anyone notices. And there, metaphorically, you have this spring’s theatrical offerings from our Honolulu playhouses: an eclectic gallery of theatrics. Our critic guides you through this hall of wonders. (See sidebar for names.)


Cage of Fireflies

We’ll start with a family portrait. In KKT’s A Cage of Fireflies (opening 1/24), local playwright Daniel Akiyama applies a sensitive brush to the story of elderly sisters who must confront themselves and their Okinawan heritage. As children, they were sent to Okinawa for education, but now, in their declining years, two sisters yearn for the land of their youth while the third must contemplate the road ahead.

Boeing, Boeing

Also this month: the farce Boeing, Boeing (1/10) at MVT and local favorite Rap’s Hawaii (1/11) at HTY.


Dialogues of the Carmelites

Religious art always impresses. We select the interestingly titled opera Dialogues of the Carmelites (2/15) by modern French composer/librettist Francis Poulenc, at HOT. A group of nuns during the French Revolution must choose between abandoning their mission and certain death. Performed in English with supertitles, flying above.

Leading Ladies, & more

On a more secular note, DHT will present the Ken Ludwig comedy Leading Ladies (2/1). Also, HTY has two kids’ shows–an adaptation of Armstrong Sperry’s Newbery Award-winning Call It Courage (2/15) and a remounting of Lee Cataluna’s Musubi Man (2/23). For grown-ups who prefer a darker canvas, KT Late Night debuts John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (2/8). TAG continues its series of August Wilson plays with King Hedley II (2/15).


Next To Normal

MVT presents the musical equivalent of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”–the hit show Next to Normal (3/7)–about a dysfunctional family dealing with mental illness. Many folks in the theater community might admit to being bipolar themselves, especially during Hell Week, but in NTN, the neuroses stay in character. NTN was workshopped by the writer/composer team of Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. Interestingly, they had their efforts vetted for accuracy by both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. So, it might do you some good.

9 to 5 , La Strada, All That Remains

Mixed-media transformation is a theme in other March shows, with DHT’s movie-turned-musical 9 to 5: The Musical (3/29), featuring tunes by the inimitable Dolly Parton, and KT Prime Time’s movie-turned-drama La Strada (3/6). The Fellini classic now comes without English subtitles. Also this month, KKT unveils yet another world premiere, All That Remains (3/28) by Mona Z. Smith.


In Honolulu, April reveals a triptych of shows with women in every panel.

Hedda Gabler

The first pick is Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (4/5) at HPU. Gabler is a toothy role for any mature actress and was one of the first truly modern female characters, complete with neuroses of her own.

Thread Hell

An import from Japan fills our middle panel. Thread Hell (4/12) is an avant-garde drama by Kishida Rio–a study of women searching for identity while working in pre-WWII textile mills. The guest director for this KT Mainstage production will be UH alumna Colleen Lanki, currently the director of TomoeArts in Vancouver, BC.

Belle’s Stratagem

Our last panel features TAG’s production of The Belle’s Stratagem (4/19) by 18th century English playwright Hannah Cowley. One of the most popular comedies of its day, by royal decree it had to be performed every year for the family of King George III (yes, that George, at whom our Founding Fathers thumbed their colonial noses).

Other shows to consider: HTY’s Charlotte’s Web (4/5), Late Night KT’s A Lovely Violent Ghost Haiku with Gun (4/5), and HOT’s Tosca (4/25).


The Goodbye Girl

On the DHT stage, the late Marvin Hamlisch’s musical pastels brighten Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl (5/24), another movie-turned-musical. Simon wrote the screenplay for his then-wife Marsha Mason, and years later, lyricist David Zippel and Hamlisch ported it to the stage.

Bloody Murder, Sound and Beauty

We complete our gallery tour with a bit of Dada and two Asian miniatures: MVT’s Bloody Murder (5/2), a mystery farce that not only breaks the fourth wall, it pulverizes it, and KKT’s Sound and Beauty (5/30)–two lyrical one-acts, by the renowned playwright David Henry Hwang.

Key to Abbreviations

DHT: Diamond Head Theatre, [diamondheadtheatre.com], 733-0274
HOT: Hawaii Opera Theatre, [hawaiiopera.org], 596-7858
HPU: Hawaii Pacific University, [tinyurl.com], 375-1282
HTY: Honolulu Theatre for Youth, [htyweb.org], 839-9885
KKT: Kumu Kahua Theatre, [kumukahua.org], 536-4441
KT: Kennedy Theatre at the University of Hawaii/Manoa, [tinyurl.com], 956-2598
MVT: Manoa Valley Theatre, [manoavalleytheatre.com], 988-6131
TAG: The Actors’ Group, [taghawaii.net], 722-6941