PEARL CITY, Hawaii (KHON2) — The University of Hawai’i’s Leeward Community College was finally able to launch its new season in their $12 million renovated theater. After three years of work and two years of pandemic restrictions, the Leeward Theater was able to premiere The Līhe Lili’u Project’s Makalapua in September.

The newly renovated LCC theater had originally premiered its first show in 2019 and quickly began selling out its stage to productions. But, the 2020 pandemic halted all movement in theater productions.

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Leeward Community College completed its $12 million theater renovation in 2019 in Pearl City, Hawai’i, 2018. (Photo/University of Hawai’i)

The Leeward Theater is the only major venue for arts presentations and arts education available in central O’ahu and Leeward; and after five years of not being able to be regularly used, the theater is now fully operational and scheduled for lots of upcoming productions.

New seats were installed during the renovation process in 2018 in Pearl City, Hawai’i. (Photo/University of Hawai’i)

The newly renovated theater is now booked through the end of the 2022/2023 season.

Lalea Nilsen had the opportunity to perform ballet in Leeward CC’s Pau Hana, when the theater opened briefly in Pearl City, Hawai’i in 2019. (Photo/University of Hawai’i)

“It’s beautiful,” said Lalea Nilsen, a ballet performer. “I love the backdrop and how many people can fit in the audience.”

Mokihana Garcia grew up in Waiʻanae and is hoping to perform in the new theater. He is currently at student at Leeward Community College in Pearl City, Hawai’i, November 2022. (Photo/University of Hawai’i)

“A real stage like this is unknown, at least in my experience, so revolutionary,” said Mokihana Garcia, who is currently an LCC student.

Betty Hill is a volunteer stagehand for Makalapua in Pearl City, Hawai’i in September 2022. (Photo/University of Hawai’i)

“I think it’s gorgeous,” said Betty Hill, who volunteered as a stagehand for Makalapua. “It’s my first experience in a theater ever. It’s never been available to me before so I love it.”

New Leeward Theatre Manager Elisa Olson has been in theaters all over the country. Pearl City, Hawai’i, November 2022. (Photo/University of Hawai’i)

“We have something very special here, which I am very excited about, and the ability to utilize that is fantastic,” said Elisa Olson the new Leeward Theater Manager. “As far as what we have to offer and our capability, we can do just about anything.”

Elisa Olsen is the new manager for the Leeward Theater. She’s worked in theaters and with productions across the country and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Leeward Theater has lots of productions coming up:

  • Hawaiʻi Ballet Theatre – Nutcracker (November 25–27, 2022)
  • UH Mānoa Bands (December 4, 2022)
  • Hawaiʻi Symphony (December 13, 2022)
  • Pas De Deux Hawai’i (December 9–10, 2022)
  • Hawaiʻi Symphony (February TBD, 2022)
  • X1 Entertainment – Piper Rockelle—Social media influencer (February 19, 2023)
  • Starpower Talent Competition (March 4–5, 2023)
  • Treasure Box – Goldmine Dance Competition (March 24, 2023)
  • UH Outreach College – Atamira Dance Company (April 14–15, 2023)
  • EnerGy National Dance Competition (April 22–23, 2023)
  • UH Mānoa Bands (April 30, 2023)
  • ʻIolani Schools (May 6, 2023)
  • Ballet Hawai’i (May 12–14, 2023)
  • Island Pacific Academy (May 27, 2023)
  • Spotlight Dance Cup (June 2–3, 2023)
  • Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy (June 9–10, 2023)
  • Pas De Deux Hawai’i (June 16–18, 2023)
  • Waipahu Community School for Adults (June 24, 2023)

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“Honestly what I’m the most excited about is the ability to really engage with the community and build a program that’s here that represents Leeward. We are planning on coming back for our 50th anniversary, which is next year, and offering a full slate of what we expect from Leeward Theatre and some new things along the way,” concluded Olsen.