- Posted July 24, 2011 by
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"Chicago" Arrives at Maui's Historic Iao Theater
Volunteer actors? $15 ticket price? This show must be bad, right?
Wrong! The Sunday matinee performance of “Chicago” that I attended at the historic Iao Theater in Wailuku (about as far “Off-Broadway” as you can get while remaining in the U.S.) was beyond amazing and on par with plays I have seen at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland which I often attend during summer or fall. Lia Krieg and Casey Elizabeth Murphy were the show’s super-stars in the roles of accused murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, and the entire talented cast made a top-notch rendering of this sometimes risqué musical.
The Spanish-Mission style Iao Theater opened in August of 1928 and featured live stage acts as well as movies. Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Donald O’Connor and Frank Sinatra are among the famous actors who have appeared here. Sinatra attended the 1953 premiere of From Here to Eternity (in which he played Private Angelo Maggio; the movie was filmed on the neighboring island of Oahu) at the Iao Theater. Currently the Iao Theater hosts Broadway style plays and musicals, films, concerts, comedy shows, and social events.
The theater closed during the 1980’s. But demolition was avoided, restoration took place in 1995-1996, and in 1994 the Iao was listed as the oldest theater in Hawaii on the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places and the following year became listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Air conditioning was added in 2009.
The Maui Community Theater, formed by the Maui Players and Little Theater of Maui back in 1931, became known as Maui OnStage in 2002. The company employs two full time staff members as well as a handful of part-time workers. Husband and wife team Alexis Dascoulias (Executive Director) and Steven Dascoulias (Production / Facilities Manager) moved to Maui from New Hampshire four years ago.
Maui OnStage has more than 200 volunteer actors, as well as over 150 other volunteers who share talents from set building, painting, costume construction, box office management, ushering and event coordinating. It is governed by an 11 member volunteer Board of Directors. Maui OnStage has been housed in the Historic Iao Theater for the past 25 years.
“Chicago” continues through July 31st, then “The Garden of BE” premieres on September 23. But the company performs throughout the year, so whenever you are on Maui, take advantage of this great entertainment value.
(For more information about the Iao Theater, to check on upcoming shows, and to order tickets, visit Maui Onstage.com or phone 808-22-6969. Dick Jordan received a complimentary ticket to “Chicago.” Photos and Iao Theater history provided by Alexis Dascoulias of Maui OnStage. This story first appeared on the travel blog, Tales Told From The Road, www.talestoldfromtheroad.com).