Kumu Kahua Theatre opens 50th season with digital presentation

  • COURTESY KUMU KAHUA THEATRE Sean-Joseph Takeo Kahaokalani Choo and Kahana Ho star in “Lovey Lee,” the opening play in Kumu Kahua’s 50th season, which begins Thursday.

    COURTESY KUMU KAHUA THEATRE

    Sean-Joseph Takeo Kahaokalani Choo and Kahana Ho star in “Lovey Lee,” the opening play in Kumu Kahua’s 50th season, which begins Thursday.

Despite the pandemic, the show must go on for Kumu Kahua Theatre, which opens its 50th season Thursday with a digital presentation of “Lovey Lee,” a drama set in Honolulu in the 1970s.

The play, by actor/playwright Moses Goods that explores the seamy underside of Chinatown, will be available as a livestream event, accessible on individual devices like a home computer, tablet or cellphone. At least one more Kumu Kahua production, Lee Cataluna’s “Aloha Attire,” will be presented digitally, said managing director Donna Blanchard, adding that the company is holding out some hope for in-person performances of its remaining schedule while admitting “that would kind of be a miracle.”

“Lovey Lee” is based on the life of a homosexual prostitute who worked in Chinatown in the 1970s. “There are a lot of men dressed in drag and a number of trans characters as well,” Blanchard said. “It’s a beautiful story. There’s (adult) language, and there’s discussion of some violence. … It’s not family fare unless parents have had these discussions with their kids.”

Adapting the play, which has a cast of 10, for digital presentation has been the job of Veronica Vera, who has been a stage manager for previous Kumu Kahua plays. She has been training on digital streaming programs and learning to present shows with “theatricality to the backgrounds and the lights and the sounds,” Blanchard said. “I think the craft of presenting live theater digitally is growing every week. … There is a look and feel to this that you’ve never seen before.”

“Lovey Lee” streams at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 10; and at 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 11. Cost is $5-$15. Patrons will be emailed a link and a password to connect to a Kumu Kahua page where the play will be presented, which can be accessed 30 minutes early. Visit kumukahua.org/purchase-tickets for information.

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