Karleen C. Chinen
“iHula,” Ryan Okinaka’s first effort as a playwright, has all the elements of good theatre: a relevant and dramatic storyline, excellent writing, and multitalented cast members who deliver full and passionate performances. The play is currently being staged at Kumu Kahua Theatre, with Kumu’s artistic director, Harry Wong III, in the director’s chair.
In “iHula,” “Kumu,” an aging kumu hula (hula teacher) played by Kahana Ho, works tirelessly to pass on Hawai‘i’s treasured art form to her hälau (school) of young women. Her advanced group consists of four students — her rebellious granddaughter “Iwapono,” played by Anette Aga; self-conscious “Pumehana,” played by Lelea‘e Kahalepuna Wong; “Jen,” the only haole girl in the hälau, played by Jaime Bradner; and “Kanani,” (Katja Berthold) the “baby” in the group who can’t wait to grow up.
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“iHula” continues at Kumu Kahua Theatre (46 Merchant St. at Bethel and Merchant streets), Thursdays through Sundays (2 p.m. matinees only), until Dec. 4. No performance on Thanksgiving, however. For tickets ($5-$25), call 536-4441 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., or visit KumuKahua.org.