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Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of FLOWERS OF HAWAI'I at UHM Kennedy Theatre

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Online performances will take place November 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m., and November 22 at 2:00 p.m..

The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's Department of Theatre and Dance and Kennedy Theatre present Flowers of Hawai'i, by award-winning local playwright Lee Cataluna (Folks You Meet at Longs, You Somebody).

Throughout the play you'll meet the quirky, troubled, and resilient members of a multi-generational local family as they battle over love, sex, money, and inheritance. The production is directed by Lurana Donnels O'Malley, the Director of Graduate Studies in Theatre and a Professor of Theatre at UHM. Online performances will take place November 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m., and November 22 at 2:00 p.m. Special Streaming Ticket prices range from $5-$15.

Flowers of Hawai'i is the first play by Cataluna to be performed in the Kennedy Theatre production season. When asked about why this play was selected, O'Malley remarked, "Students were calling on our department to make changes in our repertory, to have our seasons reflect our community. There are so many talented local playwrights but the challenge was to choose a play that would be suitable for an online environment. I immediately thought of Flowers of Hawai'i. It's a series of two-person scenes. In each interaction there's detail, realism, and a great deal of humor." O'Malley continued, "You definitely know people like this but you haven't necessarily seen them on stage before." The new digital format will also allow for audience members to attend from across the entire Hawaiian archipelago, the continent, and even internationally.

"This play is a nice antidote to those stereotypes of Hawai'i being just full of 'happy beautiful islanders.' For example, Lee shows us the effect addiction has on the entire family and the entire community. These are very real issues being faced by people we know, people all around us." O'Malley adds, "I think that people on the continent or internationally will also enjoy seeing another side of Hawai'i."

Cataluna creates fifteen distinct characters. O'Malley: "The character ages range from 14 to mid-80s so I feel that the play will appeal to a large demographic." Since there are only nine actors, several have been asked to play two distinct but truthful characters. New Master of Fine Arts candidate Robert Torigoe is one of the actors who will be tackling this challenge. Born in Honolulu, Torigoe graduated from St. Louis High School before briefly attending UHM where he performed in the Spring 1992 production of West Side Story directed by Glenn Cannon. Life took him to New York City where he acted professionally and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Lehman College. While in New York he was involved in a script workshop for Flowers of Hawai'i. He played the role of ORLANDO, a role he is reprising in this production. When asked why he decided to come home to Hawai'i to earn his MFA in Acting, Torigoe mused, "I was considering other schools, but I know the University of Hawai'i has more diverse offerings. I'm taking my first Japanese Theatre class this semester - for me that is exciting! Knowing other forms of artistry in theatre will help inform my theatre-making going forward. By coming back to Hawai'i and saying I don't have to fit into that mold, I can see what else I can learn." When asked about this project Torigoe replied, "I'm excited! This play is a slice of Hawai'i life. I really want to hear so many more stories about people here in the islands. I feel they are just as relevant and important as any other story that's been on Broadway. We need to recognize that more voices need to be heard. The public needs to let the university know how much the theatre and the arts mean to them and this island."

In the weeks leading up to this production, Kumu Kahua Theatre will be producing Aloha Attire, a new Cataluna play set in the 1980s. Cataluna sees this new play as a prequel to Flowers of Hawai'i. Since several characters appear in both scripts, costume designers Isabella Dixon (Flowers of Hawai'i) and Maile Speetjens (Aloha Attire) have been in close communication to make visual connections between the overlapping characters in the productions. According to O'Malley, "The coincidences between the two theatres' timing and the fact that we overlap performances by one weekend makes this design process incredibly fun." In addition to her costume, hair, and make-up designs on this production, Dixon said that due to the intimacy of the digital platform, and the director's intention to use unique close-ups, she is intentionally focusing more on the design, detail, and impact that jewelry has on the characters.

Information about the show, cast list, a "junk drawer" photo contest, and more can be found on the show webpage at http://manoa.hawaii.edu/liveonstage/flowers. Tickets to Flowers of Hawai`i are available for purchase at https://www.showtix4u.com/events/kennedytheatre. For ticketing questions email the box office at ktbox@hawaii.edu.

Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of FLOWERS OF HAWAI'I at UHM Kennedy Theatre

Victoria Kashiwai

Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of FLOWERS OF HAWAI'I at UHM Kennedy Theatre

Ocean Rea

Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of FLOWERS OF HAWAI'I at UHM Kennedy Theatre

Taylor Bogan

Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of FLOWERS OF HAWAI'I at UHM Kennedy Theatre

Moku DurantPhoto Flash: Meet the Cast of FLOWERS OF HAWAI'I at UHM Kennedy Theatre

Robert Torigoe


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