HONOLULU (KHON2) — For the first time in nearly two years, Kumu Kahua Theatre is opening its doors to a live audience for the return of The Conversion of Kaʻahumanu.

It’s the first show the theatre had to cancel when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Since they had no idea how long the closure would last, the actors kept rehearsing weekly via Zoom… for a very long time.

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In August 2020, the theatre presented two shows digitally. Kumu Kahua Theatre Managing Director Donna Blanchard says it was simply actors in Zoom boxes, performing the best they could in the limited space.

“We thought it was poetic to return to our in-person stage with that show this year, but when we planned our return, we had no idea what kind of havoc omicron would create,” Blanchard said, “but we’ve chosen to move forward with very limited seating in our space, which has a single air exchange for the theatre alone.”

Unfortunately, two of the original actors are unable to participate for this run. They have been replaced with the understudy from the original run and one additional actor.

“The actors are very excited to perform for an in-person audience, and they’re also quite emotional about it,” said Blanchard. “It’s an intense show… and it’s a momentous occasion to return to the theatre after two years and be physically near each other.”

Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl’s historic drama explores the official adoption of Christianity in Hawaii. A year after Queen Kaʻahumanu overthrew the traditional kapu system in ancient Hawaii, Lucy Thurston and Sybil Bingham arrive on Oahu in 1820 and immediately attempt their missionary task. Queen Kaʻahumanu has no desire for any new religion and is more interested in their dresses. But as Sybil and Lucy persevere, so begins the slow and gradual process of Queen Kaʻahumanu’s conversion.

The Conversion of Kaʻahumanu runs Thursdays to Sundays at 8 p.m., and on Sundays at 2 p.m. Click here for the list of dates and how to reserve at ticket.


Proof of vaccination and identity are required upon entry, even if you have already pre-registered your vaccination card with the theatre. Patrons must pass a temperature check and answer a brief questionnaire. Everyone — with the exception of actors — is required to wear a mask at all times.

* NOTE: If any audience member removes their mask, they will stop the performance until the situation is resolved. If you need to remove your mask, exit the building immediately. Click here for details.

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Kumu Kahua Theatre is working with Olelo TV to provide an option for folks who are uncomfortable with seeing the show in-person. Olelo will film during their run and will air the show a month later.