Honolulu is composed of many neighborhoods, a diverse group of people, and a few surprises. Waikiki, polynesian luau shows, shopping, and the beaches are not the surprises.
Neither are attractions such as Aloha Tower or Iolani Palace. Even the stunning view from the Pali Lookout is somewhat expected given the beauty of the islands. So, where’s the surprise?
The Hawaii Theatre. What’s surprising about an old theatre building? Anything old that becomes new again is a surprise.
Hawaii Theatre was first constructed in the early 1920s by Consolidated Amusements of Honolulu.
It was a theatre for entertainment and films and remained the premiere location for movies and local entertainment in Honolulu until television reared its ugly head in the 1950s.
It was all down hill from then. By 1984 the Hawaii Theatre was so debilitated that Consolidated closed the doors. A once proud and beautiful theatre from glory days of the past was reduced to a shell of history.
The surprise? Hawaii Theatre survived. When it closed, the Hawaii Theatre Center was formed to protect it from demolition. Donations allowed the building and nearby buildings to be purchased. In 1989 renovation began.
Restoration was complete in 2005.
The interior, the seats, the stage, the curtains, the ornamentation, the balcony; all have been restored to a condition befitting the glory years of decades past.
The Hawaii Theatre opened again in 1996, though the exterior renovation was not completed until 2004.
Today, the Theatre is used for everything except popular movies. Dance. Hula. Plays. Performances. The seats are spacious and comfortable. The architectural details are faithful to the 1920’s and 1930’s; the glory days, a symbol of endurance.
The surprise? Something beautiful, useful, and loved has survived from early in the past century to early in this century and remains vibrant and worthwhile.
The Hawaii Theatre reminds me a little of my parents. They’re about the same age; vibrant and healthy, and a family symbol of endurance despite more than a few years of wear and tear.