5 Theater Shows and Local Premieres Coming to O‘ahu in the 2018-2019 Season

Fall means the start of Honolulu’s theater season. So dust off your dress slippers and get ready for some standing ovations.
Paniolo: Stories and Songs from the Hawaiian Cowboy
Illustrations: Christine Labrador


Superhero families. Ant-man met a wasp. Asians got rich and crazy and, yes, dinosaurs went tromping across Hawai‘i for the fifth time. Summer is for the movies. In the fall, theater takes center stage. Live local actors and musicians amp up audiences. Plus, you’ll never have to strain to hear over people munching popcorn and slurping sodas.


We looked at the 2018/2019 season community theater schedules for lesser-known shows and local premieres. Here are some of our picks.


Paniolo: Stories and Songs from the Hawaiian Cowboy

Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Nov. 2–17

While the theatergoing keiki set will probably be buzzing about the adaptation of Mo Willems’ popular Elephant & Piggie book We Are in a Play!, which debuts in December, we’re also interested in Moses Goods’ show. Paniolo will bring the history of our turn-of-the-century cowboys to the stage through stories and songs. HTY’s show is for kids 7 and up, so you can expect more scripting than the ones for toddlers.


Shipment Day

Mānoa Valley Theatre, Nov. 8–25


The company that was created by UH theater graduate students celebrates its 50th anniversary with a lineup of encore performances and two Hawai‘i premieres. Fans of MVT’s satirical comedies will cheer the return of Pageant, Avenue Q and the improv-based Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. The world premiere of Shipment Day takes a serious turn, following the life of leprosy activist Olivia Robello Breitha from her diagnosis at 18 to her life at Kalaupapa. Playwright Lorenzo DeStefano is Breitha’s cousin and returns to Hawai‘i to direct this debut.


A Midsummer Night’s Bollywood Dream

Kennedy Theatre, Feb. 1–10, 2019

Midsummer Night's Dream

UH Mānoa’s theater has been known for producing classics and Asian works for decades, and occasionally for mixing the two. In this reworking of Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, a love triangle, mistaken identities and a fairy queen—who, of course, falls in love with a man with the head of an ass—all receive the high-energy Bollywood treatment.


Da Beer Can Hat

Kumu Kahua Theatre, May 23–June 23, 2019

Da Beer Can Hat

Kumu Kahua means “original stage,” and for the past 48 years, it’s been highlighting local voices in experimental theater. This season is full of debuts—four out of five performances are new plays or world premieres—but we have to give a nod to the staging of Da Beer Can Hat. Darrell Lum’s classic tale about the mentally challenged Bobo, his abusive father, protective friend and beloved beer can hat still touches us 40 years later.


Matilda: The Musical

Diamond Head Theatre, July 12–Aug. 4, 2019


DHT’s mostly musical 104th season features several Tony Award-winning titles. Hello, Dolly took home the most statues (sweeping most major categories in 1964) but we’re going with the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story about a bright 5-year-old girl who loves books, deals with an unlovable family and, by the way, has telekinesis. DHT has a history of finding great young talent, so we’re excited to see who will play the title role.


READ ALSO: Upcoming Theater Shows in Honolulu