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46 Merchant St
Honolulu, HI, 96813
United States


Dark Nights


Interested in bringing a Dark Night to Kumu Kahua Theatre?  Read this and contact our Artist Director.

Spring 2018

Memorial Day

March 26 - March 27, 2018

Memorial Day Poster.jpg


Monday, March 26, 7:30 pm

Tuesday, March 27, 7:30 pm

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
Free; Donations Appreciated  |  536-4441



April 16- April 17, 2018

Sunday, April 15, 5:00 pm

Monday, April 16, 6:30 pm

Tuesday, April 17, 6:00 pm

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$12.00  |  536-4441


Winter 2017

Exclusive Solo Performance by Renown Dancer Peiling Kao at Kumu Kahua Theatre

You Are Here

December 8 & 9, 2017

You Are Here.png

Performance dates and times:

Friday, December 8 at 8pm

Saturday, December 9 at 4pm and 8pm

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$10.00, $15 at the door  |  536-4441

Taiwanese choreographer Peiling Kao’s Hawaiʻi debut features solo work performed by Kao, a trio created for local dancers, and a collaborative piece made in dialog with new Honolulu friends. Since relocating from the San Francisco Bay Area in August 2016, Peiling Kao has aimed to bring creative ideas, connect to her new community through artistic exchange, and share her vision of contemporary dance with audiences in Hawaii.

This full-evening length, deeply innovative dance performance includes three pieces: per[mute]ing (2016), She Was A Visiter (premiere), and You Are Here (premiere)

In 2016, Kao was commissioned to create an original solo work for San Francisco-based Hope Mohr Dance’s Bridge Project: Ten Artists Respond to Locus. It was a groundbreaking, multidisciplinary exchange with dance history inspired by the work of dance pioneer Trisha Brown. Dance critic David Moreno wrote:

“Kao dismantled [Locus] into something soulful, breaking down sharp lines and gestures into fluid presence. She danced without the 4×4 confinement suggesting something much bigger, freer, and authentically her own. Kao’s dancing is always a pleasure to behold, always deeply genuine.”

The second piece, a trio named after Robert Ashley’s groundbreaking experimental music She Was a Visiter (1967), reflects and explores the secret of numbers that manipulate and systematize the choreographic process. Kao choreographed She Was A Visiter for three outstanding O’ahu dancers: Madelyn Biven, Maria Houar and Malia Yamamoto.

The last solo, You Are Here, starts with the premise that the soloist is actually never alone. Kao choreographed this piece based on twenty-two prompts she received from her friends and colleagues in Hawaiʻi. Rather than seeking internally to find movement in her past bodily training and influences, in You Are Here, Kao compiled influences from artists and scholars in Hawaii and connected with these individuals through interdisciplinary artistic exchange.

Calendar Listing PEILING KAO DANCES presents its Hawaiʻi debut: You Are Here. Feathering Kao’s fullevening length, innovative and deeply investigative choreography. The performance danced by Peiling Kao, along with outstanding Oʻahu local dancers: Madelyn Biven, Maria Houar and Malia Yamamoto. You Are Here is presented as a part of the Kumu Kahua Theater Dark Night Series.


What: You Are Here When: December 8 at 8pm, December 9 at 4pm and 8pm.

Where: Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St, Honolulu, HI 96813

Tickets: $10 online

$15 at the door. For more information:

About Artistic Director Peiling Kao

Peiling Kao, Assistant Professor of Dance at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is a Taiwanese choreographer, educator and dancer. Since moving to the U.S. in 2007, she has been working with choreographers of different aesthetic frameworks, collaborating with interdisciplinary artists, as well as creating her own work. Peiling’s research and creative interests have been focused on movement improvisation, bicultural and hybrid movement, dance lineages and interdisciplinary collaboration. In May 2010, she finished her MFA in Dance at Mills College and received an E.L Wiegand Foundation Award for excellence in performance and choreography. Peiling has received one Isadora Duncan Dance Award (in 2012) and been nominated for another (in 2013); in 2016 her work was supported by the Lo Man-Fei Dance Fund (Cloud Gate Foundation,Taiwan) and the Dean’s Travel Fund (University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, College of Arts and Humanities). Peiling teaches modern/contemporary dance technique, movement improvisation, choreography and Taiwanese/Chinese folk dance, and has served as a visiting faculty and guest artist at Mills College, Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program and BFA program, Hollins University, University of California Santa Cruz, Western Washington University, Austin Peay State University and California State University East Bay.

About Kumu Kahua Theatre

Kumu Kahua Theatreʻs Dark Night Series was created to offer other theater groups, playwrights, and performance artists the opportunity to present their work to the community. This series is presented during dark nights, evenings when Kumu Kahuaʻs regular season shows are not being performed. To be part of the Dark Night Series artists must submit a proposal, which is reviewed by the Board of Directors of Kumu Kahua. From these proposals, projects are chosen that Kumu Kahua feels will promote the development of the theater arts and benefit local artists. Kumu Kahua sees this as another way to enhance and enrich the cultural diversity and artistic climate of Honolulu.

Fall 2017


September 24 & 25, 2017
October 1 and 2, 2017


Sunday, September 24, 7:30 pm

Monday, September 25, 7:30 pm

Sunday, October 1, 7:30 pm

Monday, October 2, 7:30 pm

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$10.00  |  536-4441

Patient speaks to our preconceived notions of mental illness and makes us confront the “crazy” inside all of us. - Reiko Ho, Director

Kumu Kahua Theatre presents Patient by Tali Ariav. Ms Ariav is a playwriting instructor at Kumu Kahua Theatre and an accomplished playwright whose work has been produced internationally. Patient was originally presented as a staged reading in the PlayBuilders New PlayFestival, also at Kumu Kahua Theatre. The production has been further developed by director Reiko Ho (Shoyu on Rice and UchinaAloha). The cast includes: Cindy Ramirez, Stu Hirayama, Tyler Tanabe, Malia Lagaso, Marcus Lee and Amrita Malik. 

“Patient is a poetic, sometimes painful, exploration of our perception of mental illness” Ms. Ho explains. “It is told from the viewpoint of the patient as she moves through different states of consciousness or escapes into her own realities.”

Tali Ariav tells us, “Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian lyricist and novelist, once said, ‘We never ask ourselves why we act in one way or another. We do what everybody else is doing... If we try to do something differently, we’ll be considered crazy...’ This play raises an important question: What does it mean to be crazy? Perhaps less philosophically, what does it mean to be normal?”

The show will be presented on two Sundays & Mondays at 7:30 pm; September 24 and 25, October 1 and 2, 2017. It lasts one hour and does not have intermission.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased with a credit card by calling 536-4441, or cash by visiting the box office at 46 Merchant Street (corner of Bethel and Merchant Streets, downtown) between 11am and 3pm Monday through Friday. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance.

Summer 2016

When Strangers Meet

June 5 - June 7, 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016, 7 pm

Monday, June 6, 2016, 7 pm

Tuesday June 8, 2016, 7 pm

Tickets are $15 at the door or can be purchased in advance here:

After a successful January run at the Honolulu Museum of Arts' Doris Duke Theatre, Jeannette Paulson Hereniko’s one-woman show, WHEN STRANGERS MEET is back by popular demand!

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$15.00  |  536-4441

WHEN STRANGERS MEET was the theme of the Hawaii International Film Festival during its first 15 years when Jeannette Paulson Hereniko served as its founding director from 1981 to 1996. She was also the founding director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival and a film producer.

Settings of her stories include Vietnam, Mongolia, Oregon, Japan, Russia, Fiji, Palm Springs, Iran, and - of course - HAWAI'I! Hereniko has written and will perform alone on stage for the 90 minute production.

Audience reviews describe WHEN STRANGERS MEET as “heartwarming", "entertaining and thought-provoking", "joyous", "inspiring", "mesmerizing", "rich in meaning and encouraging!".

"Strangers can be family members, people at work, or people from a different culture”, says Jeannette. "I hope my story will encourage people to persevere – yet when encountering "strangers"; – they can shift their expectations, be open to possibilities, and embrace unexpected surprises."




April 3 - April 5, 2016

Sunday, April 3, 2016, 4 pm to 6 pm (Youth Division)
Monday, April 4, 2016: 6pm to 9 pm
(Adult Division)
Tuesday, April 5, 2016: 6 pm to 9 pm (Adult Division)

Tickets may also be purchased at the door 45 minutes prior to the event.

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$5.00  |  536-4441

Kumu Kahua Theatre presents, as part of its Dark Night Series, The PlayFestival 2016, an annual event organized by PlayBuilders of Hawai’i Theater Company.  
Formerly known as the Festival of Original Plays, PlayBuilders first started The PlayFestival in 2011, as a way to meet their mission of “gathering and sharing real stories that resonate, empower and connect” the people of Hawai’i.
The PlayFestival serves as an outlet for new plays and playwrights, and participants have enjoyed many successes as a result.  Founding executive director, Terri Madden explains, “An open call for original plays by local playwrights went last fall and only the best plays were selected. The PlayFestival has developed into an incredible opportunity for local playwrights who wish to have their works seen and possibly produced.” PlayBuilders has commissioned past PlayFestival participants, including Kristen Trombetta (The Waipahu Project,) and Mark Tjarks (Houseless in Paradise,) to write full-length, community-collaborative plays to further serve their mission. Other theatre companies have chosen  several PlayFestival plays as part of their regular seasons.  Such examples include Nancy Moss’ Will the Real Charlie Chan Please Stand Up, Marion Lyman-Mersereau’s Eddie Wen Go: The Story of the Upside Down Canoe, and Jan Shiarella McGrath’s Outage, which were produced at Kumu Kahua Theatre, The Hawai’i Theatre, and TAG respectively.
The PlayFestival 2016 will be held at Kumu Kahua Theatre on April 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  The festival will consist of rehearsed readings of original, one-act plays by local playwrights, in two divisions, youth and adults. Plays from the Youth Division will be presented on Sunday afternoon, April 3rd, from 4pm-6pm.  Plays from the Adult division will be presented on Monday and Tuesday evenings, April 5th and 6th, from 6pm-9pm. Awards in each category will be announced at the festival’s closing.  Each festival night will include a special “Meet the Playwrights” ice cream social during intermission.
The following plays and playwrights have been selected from a record number of submissions this year and will be presented on dates indicated:
Sunday, April 3, 2016, 4 pm to 6 pm (Youth Division)
The Tumble by Daisy Sprenger
The He Man Play by Emilee Mcdonald
Kansas City Pet Store Christmas by Sarah Wong
The New Sink by Ben Cook
(Intermission. Playwrights Gathering and Ice Cream Social.)
The Dead Man by Callum Bessinger
Make It Home by Maddie Matthews
The One-Year Victim by Hannah Kurosu
Monday, April 4, 2016: 6pm to 9 pm (Adult Division)
Da Play by Lee A. Tonouchi
In Transit by Jan McGrath
 (Intermission. Playwrights Gathering and Ice Cream Social.)
Playing the S Line by Mark Tjarks
Shipment Day by Lorenzo DeStefano
Tuesday, April 5, 2016: 6 pm to 9 pm (Adult Division)
Aloha, Mahu by SH Murakoshi
Houdini by Kirby Wright
 (Intermission. Playwrights Gathering and Ice Cream Social.)
Ahiwela. by Marion Lyman-Mersereau

PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Company gathers and shares real stories that resonate with, empower, and connect individuals throughout the culturally rich and diverse communities of Hawai'i.

For additional information please contact Terri Madden at

MONEY TALKS: But What the Hell is it Saying?

april 17 - april 19, 2016

Sunday, April 17, Monday, April 18, Tuesday, April 19, 8 pm

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$10.00  |  536-4441

MONEY TALKS: But What the Hell is it Saying? is the wildly true story of two women artists, a generation apart, struggling to understand the meaning of success, failure, and inherent self-worth.  It is a funny, serious and intimate “conversation” presented by Kumu Kahua Theatre, as part of their Dark Night Series.

When 38-year-old German-born international singer/songwriter Lucie Lynch met 61-year-old Brooklyn-born international author Marcia Zina Mager they were both grappling with Hawaii’s high cost of living. Despite their age difference, the two Honolulu-based women decided it was time, once and for all, to deal with their life-long money issues by writing a full length Broadway musical together. That 18 month journey transformed into a brazenly honest TED TALK-ish musical play chronicling the ups and downs of their intensive creative project.

MONEY TALKS debuted at the 2015 Oahu Fringe Festival where it broke box office records. The show also recently won the prestigious Audience Choice Award at Iao Theatre as part of the 2016 Maui Fringe Festival. MONEY TALKScontinues to impact a diverse audience, ranging from drug rehab residents to theatregoers, Church Congregations and the Women’s Community Correctional Center.

The show is directed by Roslyn Catracchia, (celebrated composer & lyricist known for her collaboration with Lisa Matsumoto on Once Upon One Time trilogy, On Dragonfly Wings, The Princess and the Iso Peanut, and many more), and features live music by critically acclaimed pianist Robert Wehrman (who has played with iconic musicians such as George Harrison, Michael Jackson, James Taylor, and Ray Charles).

Medusa, A Metal Musical by Storm

Wednesday, February 3, 7:00pm

Wednesday, February 3, 7:00pm

The box office opens 45 minutes before curtain.  Tickets can be purchased in advance via PayPal by entering sandyessman@gmail to pay for goods and services.  Questions may also be addressed to that email.

SPECIAL NOTE: Please note: The show contains adult themes and situations, a simulated rape, and profanity. Age 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$10.00  |  536-4441

Storm, Hawai‘i’s premiere progressive goth-metal band brings a first-of-its-kind production to the Kumu Kahua stage.

Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-nominated producer Gerard K. Gonsalves directs a diverse cast of singers representing all factions of Hawaii’s rock and heavy metal scene. 

A stage production of Storm’s second album, Medusa tells the story of the mythical gorgon in a way that has never been done before—from her perspective.  The intensity of metal music is used to its fullest effect to capture the rage, despair, heartbreak and turmoil of this tragic story.   Be transported to ancient Greece, in the time of the gods, where one woman’s struggle will give rise to one of the world’s most fearsome and enduring legends. 

The production stars Sandy “Storm” Essman in the title role of Medusa, Kevin Jones as Perseus, Margaret Ransdell-Green as the goddess Athena, and Ka'imi Hanano'eau as Poseidon.  Providing the music (and serving as a “mini-metal pit orchestra” of sorts) are Storm members Gerard K. Gonsalves (drums), Darren Soliven (bass), Jase Michel (guitar) and Eric Barker (keyboards).

FALL 2015


Two Nights Only
September 21 & 22

Mon 21 & Tues 22 September 7.30pm

Tickets are $30 Full
$25 Concession & Groups of 4+
 $20 Students

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$5.00  |  536-4441

New Zealand’s acclaimed Modern Māori Quartet is heading to Honolulu this month for two performances.

The Māori foursome performs their signature cabaret show, An Evening with the Modern Māori Quartet on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 September at Kumu Kahua Theatre, Honolulu.

Filled with waiata (song), humour and charm, Modern Māori Quartet offer a fresh take on classic Māori showbands, crooning their spin on modern and classic numbers.

The band comes to Honolulu following a hugely successful tour to Malaysia, Uzbekistan and Singapore in August resulting in receiving the ‘Most Daring & Emotional Performance’ Award at the 10th Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

“We had such a great time at the festival,” said band member Maaka Pohatu, a former student at President Theodore Roosevelt High School who played for the Roosevelt Rough Riders.  “We were treated like Kings the whole time and then to win the award – that was just fantastic.”

Modern Māori Quartet comprises of four talented performers, James Tito, Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau and Francis Kora who all lead illustrious careers outside of their work together.
James, Maaka and Matariki are actors on stage and screen – among other works, James and Maaka performed in The Māori Troilus and Cressida, which featured at the prestigious Globe Theatre in London, while Francis and Matariki starred in NZ hit film The Pā Boys. Francis Kora is also the frontman of iconic NZ band KORA.

Acclaimed for their harmonies and charm, Modern Māori Quartet promises a show featuring New Zealand classics and recent international hits, all with a unique MMQ twist and flavour.

“Billed as the new face of Māori showbands, handsome, hilarious and harmonious, The Modern Māori Quartet is entertainment at its best." – Theatreview

“The Modern Māori Quartet radiate good times.” – Metro

“It’s not surprising that the members of MMQ are all, first and foremost, brilliant actors.  Coincidentally, they happen to be amazing musicians that explode with chemistry whenever they’re in the same room.” – Regional News (Wellington)
“A full house clapped, cheered and stamped their way to three encores from the Modern Māori Quartet after an evening of wonderful close harmonies and sly wit – all delivered with down-home warmth.” – Otago Daily Times
An Evening with the Modern Māori Quartet is presented as a part of Kumu Kahua Theatre's Dark Night Series.
Kumu Kahua Theatre’s Dark Night Series was created to offer other theatre groups, playwrights, and performance artists the opportunity to present their work to the community.  This series is presented during dark nights, evenings when Kumu Kahua’s regular season shows are not being performed.  To be part of the Dark Night Series artists must submit a proposal, which is reviewed by the Board of Directors of Kumu Kahua.  From these proposals, projects are chosen that Kumu Kahua feels will promote the development of the theatrical arts and benefit local artists.  Kumu Kahua sees this as another way to enhance and enrich the cultural diversity and artistic climate of Honolulu


Murmurs – a modern dance performance

July 26 – 28, 2015

Sunday July 26th
Monday July 27th 
Tuesday July 28th

No intermission

Reserve Tickets

Join the FaceBook Event

Approximate run-time of the performance: 40 minutes.

All audience members must purchase tickets at Kumu Kahua, an hour before the performances start each day.

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$5.00  |  536-4441

Murmurs is a newly created dance piece by choreographer Chloe Amos. It is debuting with a three-day performance, showcasing modern dance in a uniquely intimate and interactive setting. This is presented as part of Kumu Kahua Theatre’s Dark Night series. 

Murmurs is the first full-length work that Chloe has created. The company consists of dancers Chloe Amos, Gina Cross and Jacob Yamaguchi. 

The piece’s central focus is on the ways in which communication changes in the face of tragedy. Throughout the work, the dancers examine the pains of speaking about tragedy, the awkwardness in trying to console others, and the effects of silence during suffering. 

Choreographer Chloe Amos said this about Murmurs: 

One of my goals in life is to make modern dance more accessible to people who may not have any real grasp of what modern dance can look like. It’s time for modern dance and Hawai‘i to finally become acquainted with each other. This is my first stab at creating a piece that feels more like a conversation between the dancers and the audience than a performance.

It has been a whirlwind producing this piece from the ground up, and our little cast is just beginning to gel together. It will be exciting to see how our performance grows as we continue to work on the flow of the piece.


June 21 – 23, 2015

 Sunday June 21st
Monday June 22nd 
Tuesday 23rd

1st Section - 6:30 PM 
2nd Section - 7:35 PM (approximate) 
3rd Section - 8:40 PM

Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant Street
$10.00  |  536-4441

For this production, tickets can be used three times (See explanation below.) 
All audience members must either print out their pre-purchased tickets from Eventbrite, or purchase tickets at Kumu Kahua, an hour before the performances start each day.  

New Play Festival is a new festival, established early 2015. It is a three-day event, showcasing nine different newly written plays written by several local playwrights, including Ian Chong, Alvin Chan and Jasmine Fernandez. This is presented as part of Kumu Kahua Theatre’s dark night series. 

New Play Festival is the first production the company has produced, and their first venture at Kumu Kahua Theatre.  The company consists of Producer Isaac Ligsay and Producers, Directors and Playwrights Alan Shepard and Jasmin Haugstuen Please. 

The festival’s nine plays depict different relationships between family members, friends, lovers and workplaces; it explores the future, the present local time, self–reflection, identity cultural diversity. The writers were limited to one month to submit their plays. 

Actress Cindy Ramirez, who is appearing in the new short play entry ‘Bus Ride’ said this about the New Play Festival: 

What’s so great about the New Play Festival is that it’s going to be an experience… like entering a museum.  Maybe you’ll like something -- maybe some things not -- maybe you’ll love some things so much you want them to stay with you forever. People can explore it like a gallery.

And it’s new writing, I think Hawai‘i is ready for regular opportunities to be surprised. With this festival, people can look forward to new plays, just like they look forward to new movies

The festival has a large, varied and talented cast of local actors.  The directors are: Alex Munro, Jasmin Haugstuen Please, Alan Shepard, Jasmine Fernandez, Janice McGrath and Michael Donato. 

Each ticket includes the opportunity to attend the festival several times. Producer, Jasmin Haugstuen Please explains:

Each ticket is good for all three sections of plays, and patrons will receive one stamp for each section they see.  So, you can watch one whole evening of plays, or see one, go to dinner and return the next night/s to see the other two! This way everyone can really enjoy all three sections, in their own time.

The cast features Jacob Yamaguchi, a senior at Castle High School, and Gina Cross, a student at UH Manoa. Chloe Amos is a local girl attending Bennington College.

 “We started out with no money, after a lot of support and a great fundraiser, we have a budget. But we are still limited with time, and amount of time in the space.” Says producer and director Alan Shepard. 

“We all have to work on making the transitions smooth, as it is a long night of plays, and it will be fun to work all together on the three days we have before the festival begins. We are all aiming to keep it simple, but to still tell the stories on the level they deserve to be told.” 

For more information and insight to the festival, the rehearsals of the plays and the people involved visit

Kumu Kahua Theatre’s Dark Night Series was created to offer other theatre groups, playwrights, and artists the opportunity to present their work to the community.  This series is presented during dark nights - evenings when Kumu Kahua’s regular season shows are not being performed.  To be part of the Dark Night Series, artists must submit a proposal, which is reviewed by the Artistic Director and Board of Directors.  From these proposals, projects are chosen that Kumu Kahua feels will promote the development of the theatrical arts and benefit local artists.  This is an effort to enhance and enrich the cultural diversity and artistic climate of Honolulu.