Upcoming Theater Shows in Honolulu

'Tis the theater season. Whether you love musicals, plays, one-man shows or even racist puppets, these six local theaters have live performances to add to your must-see lists.

Honolulu Theatre for Youth Filipino Folktales

Filipino Folktales & Fables at Honolulu theatre for youth opens aug. 24.
photo: courtesy of honolulu theatre for youth


Diamond Head Theatre

520 Makapu‘u Avenue. (808) 733-0274, diamondheadtheatre.com


Hello Dolly!

Sept. 21 through Oct. 14

The story of a meddling matchmaker, who tries to find love for a half-millionaire, his two clerks, a milliner and, not to be left out, herself swept the Tony Awards when it debuted on Broadway in 1964. Actresses Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand have played the star role. Now, Hawaii's own Tony-nominated songstress, Loretta Ables Sayres, takes the stage as Dolly Levi to belt out favorites such as "Before the Parade Passes By" and, of course, "Hello Dolly".


Holiday Inn

Nov. 30 through Dec. 23

Irving Berlin's second-most-popular holiday-themed musical (DHT did White Christmas in 2014) follows two entertainers who are best friends and rivals, especially when it comes to romance. When one, Jim, settles down in Connecticut and turns a farmhouse into a must-visit holiday-themed spot, he meets a girl. Things go well until his friend, Ted, shows up and threatens to steal the girl away. 


Noises Off

Jan. 25 through Feb. 10, 2019

The only non-musical in DHT's season, Noises Off  takes the audience behind the scenes of a play that is headed for trouble. It starts with a problem-plagued dress rehearsal. Add a troubled love triangle, line-forgetting actors and flying sardines, and you'll get this laughable show within a show. 


Something Rotten!

March 22 through April 14, 2019

Shakespeare is the toast of England. Nick and Nigel Bottom can't possibly keep up, until a soothsayer tells them the future is a musical. The brothers start concocting the world's first performance with songs and dancing. The plan is to steal Shakespeare's next hit before he produces it. A mix up with the soothsayer turns the title Hamlet into omelet and the confusion continues from there. The Monty Python-esque plot takes jabs at Andrew Lloyd Weber, West Side Story and other musical standards. 



May 17 through June 9

A group of young women grows up in the 1960s in America, chronicled by the music of the era. It starts in times of innocence, with songs including "One Fine Day" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," takes the audience through the periods of unrest with "You Don't Own Me" and other tunes and ultimately ends with female empowerment, think "Natural Woman" and "Me and Bobby McGee."


Matilda, The Musical

July 12 through Aug. 4

The musical version of Roald Dahl's book follows 5-year-old Matilda. The little girl is mocked by her cruel parents and escapes into her books. Once she heads to school, Matilda encounters a mean child-hating headmistress, an encouraging teacher and discovers she has psychokinetic powers. Soon, her clever mind and courage leads her and her classmates to a better future. 


Hawai‘i Opera Theatre

848 S. Beretania St. (808) 596-7372, hawaiiopera.org

Descriptions are from HOT's website


Romeo & Juliet

Oct. 12, 14 and 16


Shakespeare's classic tale of young love and tragedy is brought to musical life with the romantic score by Gounod. Soprano Amanda Woodbury stars at Juliet following her performance in the same role at The Met. 


La Traviata

May 17, 19 and 21, 2019

Description is from hawaiiopera.org


The courtesan Violetta is the life of the party, even as tuberculosis, slowly takes her life away. Having long loved her, Alfredo declares his affection as Violetta falls ill.  Violetta decides to see if this kind-hearted young man is the real deal. Trading in the life that she knew, Violetta and Alfredo move away, with Violetta secretly selling everything she owns to maintain this new life of love.  But their romantic fantasy is doomed to failure.


Honolulu Theatre for Youth

229 Queen Emma Square. (808) 839-9885, htyweb.org


Filipino Folktales & Fables

Aug. 24 through Sept. 22

A celebration of the many rich cultural traditions of the Philippines, this production combines music, dance, design and story to illuminate one of the largest and most important communities in Hawai‘i. These traditional stories offer wise and humorous solutions to everything from standing up to bullies to outwitting the sky. For kids 6 years and older.



Oct. 13 though Oct. 20

Lucas loves all things that Sparkle. His whole world is sparkly. Sparkly, sparkle and more sparkle. He loves it so much. One day Isabella comes to play. She doesn’t like sparkle at all and Lucas’s sparkle starts to dim. This poignant and humorous story is about giving yourself permission to express who you are and stand up for yourself…. even if it is in your very own sparkly slippers. For kids 3 years and older.


Paniolo: Stories and Songs from the Hawaiian Cowboy

Nov. 2 through Nov. 17

Hawaiian storyteller Moses Goods returns to HTY to explore a remarkable period in Hawai‘i’s history. From Ikua Purdy winning the 1908 World Roping Championship to the way traditional Hawaiian values and practice integrated with the Paniolo lifestyle, these stories and songs will unlock a remarkable time in Hawai‘i’s history and will leave you with a grin as big as a rodeo. For kids 7 years and older.


Elephant & Piggie's "We are in a Play!"

Dec. 7 through Jan. 26, 2019

This musical romp springs from the pages of Mo Willems’ beloved, award-winning, best-selling children’s books. Sing along with Elephant and Piggie and a trio of singing squirrels as they explore the ups and downs of friendship and discover why these characters are modern classics in the world of children’s literature. For kids 3 years and older. 


Home of the Brave

Feb. 8 through Feb. 23, 2019

Inspired by interviews with military children from all branches of service, Lee Cataluna has crafted a remarkable portrait showcasing the loyalty and fierce pride-as well as the anxiety-that comes with being part of a family that is serving in our nation’s military. Developed as a co-commission with La Jolla Playhouse, this play tells the story of some of Hawai‘i’s bravest kids. For kids 7 years and older.


Trash & Treasure

March 2 through March 9, 2019

One person’s trash is another’s treasure. This interactive adventure for HTY’s youngest audience, explores the world of trash from garbage trucks, to the tiny “treasures” that fill our pockets. Music and magic pepper this exploration of how no resource or opportunity should be wasted in the life cycle of “stuff.” For kids 3 years and older.


The Adventures of Pinocchio

April 12 through May 18, 2019

HTY ends our season with a new take on a timeless classic. This story about a mischievous puppet and his father Geppetto holds powerful lessons about truth and lies, genuine friendship and the power of love to give us life. Re-imagined with a radiant new design and original music, the production encourages a new generation to enjoy the most read children’s book in the world. For kids 5 years and older.

Kennedy Theatre Cat and the Hat 2018
malia wessel, donovan oakleaf and dylan chace lee are part of the cast of dr. seuss's the cat in the hat at kennedy theatre.
photo: john wells courtesy of kennedy theatre.


Kennedy Theatre at UH Mānoa

1770 East-West Road. (808) 956-7677, manoa.hawaii.edu/liveonstage/kennedy-theatre


Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat

Sept. 14 through Sept. 23

The Cat, Thing 1 and Thing 2 create havoc on a house during a rainy day. Join the wacky rhyming characters, two bored kids and a lecturing fish for this fun live-action version of the Dr. Seuss classic story.


The Good Person of Setzuan

Oct. 11 through Oct. 14

Three Gods are on the hunt for one good person. When they arrive in Setzuan, they discover several almost-good people all struggling to make ends meet. Will they ever fulfill their task?


War of the Worlds

Oct. 26 through Oct. 30

Sure, we had a missile alert mistake but people across America went into a panic when Orson Welles' presented his now infamous 1938 radio program about aliens arriving on earth. So rest assured, this is just a reenactment. But you can hear Welles' original words describing the invasion from outer space in this staged reading.


Fall Footholds

Nov. 14 through Nov. 18

Fall Footholds and Winter Footholds are the two dance concerts featuring undergraduate and graduate student choreography and performances. 


A Midsummer Night's Bollywood Dream

Feb. 1 through Feb. 10, 2019

Shakespeare's famous comedy gets a Bollywood makeover in this mainstage show. Fairies, kings and queens and the mischevous Puck spend an evening of confusion, pranks and love punctuated by energetic song and dance. 


Winter Footholds

Feb. 13 through Feb 18, 2019

Fall Footholds and Winter Footholds are the two dance concerts featuring undergraduate and graduate student choreography and performances. 


Integral Bodies

April 5 through April 14, 2019

This dance production examines the stereotypes and assumptions of the human body. The show is directed by UH assistant professor of dance Peiling Kao in collaboration with Guggenheim and the American National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient Alito Alessi.


The Country Wife

April 24 through April 28, 2019

A restoration comedy follows a rake who pretends to be impotent in order to get close enough to seduce respectable women, a husband and seemingly naive wife who soon sets off on a sexual adventure of her own, and a couple in love who must get rid of an unwanted fiance. Expect bawdy humor and plenty of sexual humor, 17th-century style.


Kumu Kahua Theatre

46 Merchant St. (808) 536-4441, kumukahua.org

Descriptions are from Kumu Kahua's website.


Pakalolo Sweet

Aug. 23 through Sept. 23

Junior Boy is a young Hawaiian man who comes from a lineage of marijuana growers and is now proudly expecting a baby with his girlfriend, Nani. During a night of karaoke, beer, and weed, the medical uses, benefits, and cultural aspects of marijuana in pre-contact Hawai‘i are explored. This prequel to the lauded Not One Batu follow’s Papa’s family—and the inevitable hardships arising when indigenous values are systematically marginalized.


June is the First Fall

Nov. 8 through Dec. 9

Don, a queer Chinese man in Hawai‘i, escapes to New York as a family tragedy intertwines with his sexuality. When he returns home to Mānoa Valley, he finds his sister engaged to his first love. June is the First Fall is a queer and moving slice of life with interweaving scenes in Hawai‘i and NYC, spanning time from the 1840s to the present.


Shipwreck'd on the Body Beautiful, or the Tats Dancing Man

Jan. 17 through Feb. 17, 2019

James F. O’Connell, America’s first Tattooed Man, headlined P. T. Barnum’s freak show, proudly displaying his head-to-foot tattoos. Shipwrecked on the Caroline Islands in the first half of the 19th century, O’Connell saved himself from death by performing Irish jigs—and so began the slow process of his assimilation into Ponapean culture. Based on a true story, this poetic one-man show recounts a compelling narrative of physical appropriation. 


The Watcher of Waipuna

March 21 through April 20, 2019

Gilbert Sanchez is the Watcher of Waipuna, defending his tiny corner of paradise against evil commercial expansion and greedy family members. Based on Gary Pak’s short story, this local fairy tale-like parable includes a chorus of housewives, supernatural elements, and examines the powerful connection between humans and the environment—loyalty to our land, connections to place, corporate development, and local displacement. 


Da Beer Can Hat

May 23 through June 23

Bobo is a little slow. His abusive father wants to send him away. Selling newspapers on the street, Bobo scrounges for a little money. Despite injuries, harassment, and discrimination, Bobo never complains—after all, he may not have much—but Bobo does have one thing: a true friend. Da Beer Can Hat is based on Darrell Lum’s original short story of a mentally handicapped individual and his one, best friend. 


Mānoa Valley Theatre

2833 East Mānoa Road. (808) 988-6131, manoavalleytheatre.com



Aug. 30 through Sept. 16

We're not sure how the swim-wear competition will run in this parody of beauty pageants. The musical comedy features an all-male cast playing six hopeful misses vying for the title of Miss Glamouresse. Judges from the audience pick their favorites so the results could change every night. 


Shipment Day

Nov. 8 through Nov. 25

This world premiere play by Lorenzo DeStefano tells the story of Olivia Robello Breitha, a leprosy patient and activist. Breitha was diagnosed at the age of 18, spent two and a half years in the Kalihi Hospital and was shipped off to Kalaupapa. She lived there until she died at 90 in 2006. Playwright DeStefano is her cousin and wrote her story, focusing on the traumatic early life of his ancestor. 


Avenue Q

Jan. 10 through Jan. 27, 2019

This is not your child's puppet show. Avenue Q follows a crew of 20-somethings living in New York grappling with serious issues such as what do you do with a degree in English, what it's like to be the Asian on the block and how to live, work and date on Avenue Q. Expect swearing, non-politically-correct jokes and a laugh-out-loud score. 



Mar. 28 through April 7, 2019

A mysterious envelope takes Sam Kimura back in time to experience the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. He enlists in the army while his sister joins the ranks of other Japanese fighting for their rights. This is a Hawai‘i premiere of the musical drama and will be performed at the historic Hawai‘i Theatre. 


Tony n' Tina's Wedding

May 1 through June 2, 2019

When a big Italian family and a big Italian family get together for a big Italian wedding, improvisational comedy ensues. The audience takes place of the guests at this celebration that involves a bickering family, a pasta dinner and unexpected toasts which made the comedy one of the longest-running shows on Off Broadway.


The Actors' Group

650 Iwilei Road, Suite 101. (808) 722-6941, taghawaii.net


The Crusade of Connor Stephens

Aug. 3 through Aug. 26

A Texas family deals with an act of violence that will put them in the media spotlight and shake up their lives. The family will have to examine the past and deal with troubling truths that define the American family as they search for peace. 


True West

Oct. 5 through Oct. 28

Austin, a screenwriter, is watching his mother's house when she is on a trip. There, he has to deal with his bullying brother and the two have to figure out how to work together to get a screenplay into Hollywood.



Dec. 7 through Dec. 30

This Hawai‘i premiere shares a slice of life in middle America through the story of a failing Italian restaurant in Pocatello, Idaho. As others move out to bigger cities, Eddie, the branch manager of the chain restaurant, does everything he can to keep his home alive. 


Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train

Feb. 8 through March 3, 2019

Angel Cruz is in Rikers Island, accused of killing the leader of a religious cult. The bicycle messenger is terrified and soon befriends a charismatic serial killer who says he has been born again. 



April 12 through May 5, 2019

A group of factory friends soon find themselves at odds when layoffs and a strike threaten their survival. 


Mining for Cole

June 14 through June 30, 2019

Actress and singer Shari Lynn takes a look at another great American composer, Cole Porter. She'll explore is life and music such as songs Night and Day, I've Got You Under My Skin and You're the Top.