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Behind the Curtain

We go to movies, we attend games at Aloha Stadium, we catch the latest musicals by our local theater groups. Behind each of these experiences are the unsung heroes. The technical directors, the ushers, the costume designers who work long and hard so that the stars shine and we, the audience, are thrilled. Devoted craftspeople behind the curtain make it all happen. Here are their stories.


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Photo by: Trevor Paulhus

Charles and Pauline Lindberg

Hawaii Theatre ushers

The Lindbergs have volunteered as ushers for Hawaii Theatre since just a few months after it reopened in 1996. They’ve since become stalwarts of the historic theater’s usher group. The week we talked to them, the Lindbergs had volunteered almost 30 hours, over the course of seven performances. “Sometimes we’ll be here late and it feels like we should sleep here, because we’ll just be coming back for a matinee show,” says Pauline with a laugh.

And what needs to be done? There’s the basic job of ushering people to their seats, but the Lindbergs also pick up trash after a show, set up and break down reception tables, and keep an eye on the audience for no-nos like flash photography. Charles says they keep coming back because of all the people they’ve gotten to know over the years—performers, regular audience members, and especially the crew of ushers they spend so many hours with. “It’s the love of the theater, really,” he says. “If it wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t be here. It’s like a big family.”


Larry Maruya

installation designer at the Honolulu Academy of Arts

If Larry Maruya does his job well enough, it won’t even occur to you that he had anything to do with a new Academy exhibit. “I always put the artwork first,” he says. “The point for the viewer is to be caught up in the work itself.” In reality, though, Maruya and his team of six workers are essential to creating any new installation. From unboxing crates of newly arrived art to fabricating cases and mounts for displaying the art, Maruya does more hands-on work with the artwork than anyone else in the museum.

“We do 30 to 35 installations a year,” he says, “and no two shows are exactly alike. I have to change my mindset for each new installation.” And the impact of Maruya’s design is obvious, at least to him. “I show up to openings to see what happens to the crowd, how they move around. It’s obvious when something’s not working.

“The best part is when you set up a specific angle of view for a piece of art, and then you see someone standing in that very spot, looking at that view of the piece that you set up, and you realize that you succeeded.”


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Honolulu Magazine February 2018
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