The island of Oahu maybe 4,975 miles from Broadway, but that doesn’t mean Honolulu theater-goers are starving for theatrical entertainment. In fact, local residents have a number of high-quality options on their annual theater calendar.
Located at the foot of Diamond Head is Hawaii’s oldest performing arts theater. Established way back in 1915 as The Footlights, Diamond Head Theatre—dubbed “The Broadway of the Pacific”—produces top-quality musicals and plays for more than 40,000 theatre-goers each year. Previous productions have included Ragtime, Peter Pan, Same Time Next Year, Chicago, Hello Dolly!, Jesus Christ Superstar and Lisa Matsumoto’s Pidgin-inspired Princess & the Iso Peanut. In addition, DHT provides workshops to train aspiring theatrical performers of all ages. The Diamond Head Theatre Shooting Stars, a youth performing arts troupe, provides polish and exposure to Hawaii’s rising young stars.
Manoa Valley Theatre
Nestled in verdant Manoa Valley is Manoa Valley Theatre, an intimate 150-seat playhouse that presents contemporary, mainstream Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Founded in 1969 as the Hawaii Performing Arts Company, MVT entertains audiences with spirited performances of Nunsense, Beehive, Damn Yankees, Forever Plaid, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Driving Miss Daisy, Little Shop of Horrors, Sweeney Todd and dozens of other productions.
In the heart of downtown Honolulu, you’ll find Kumu Kahua, a 100-seat playhouse that spotlights the work of local playwrights. The stories presented here are sometimes comical, sometimes poignant and always inspired. One recent production, Folks You Meet at Long’s, introduced audiences to some two dozen locally-inspired characters—from “Crazy Aunt Cookie” to “Uncle Choochie Nawai”—who frequent a Longs Drug Store (a fixture among Island shopping destinations).
Army Community Theatre
Army Community Theatre, meanwhile, has been delighting local and military audiences in Honolulu for more than 60 years. Performances are held at Richardson Theatre in Fort Shafter.
Honolulu Theatre for Youth
Kids of all ages will love Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Hawaii’s only professional nonprofit theater company. Performing in theaters throughout the state, HTY focuses on local theater and drama education programs geared to make a difference in the lives of Hawaii’s young people and families.
Finally, if you’re lucky, you might catch a visiting touring production of a Broadway blockbuster. In the last decade, Honolulu audiences have been treated to large-scale productions of Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Cats, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar and Fame, among others.