With the lights back up on stage, Diamond Head Theatre has a busy year ahead

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Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 3:04 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 30, 2021 at 6:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After hosting 90 years of performances, the Diamond Head Theatre stage will inhabit a new space.

Moving just a few feet from its current location, passersby can already see the bones of the new structure emerge.

According to DHT Artistic Director John Rampage, the new theatre will upgrade just about everything.

“It’s not that [the old theatre isn’t] functioning well anymore, the building was not conceived or built to do the kind of shows that we do,” Rampage said.

The new theatre will include:

  • New seating — audience members will sit on a slope without blocked views
  • A fly loft — sets will be stored above the stage to quickly transition between scenes without a blackout
  • Larger wings — more space backstage for actors and set pieces
  • Larger dressing rooms — performers will have better-changing spaces and showers
  • Education area — classes and rehearsals will take place in different rooms to allow more to happen at the same time
The new auditorium being built for the Diamond Head Theatre.
The new auditorium being built for the Diamond Head Theatre.(Diamond Head Theatre)

When construction is completed next year, they will begin Phase 2, removing the marquee side of the theatre and repurposing the back rehearsal space.

While Rampage said they don’t have dates laid out for the second and third phases, he said they’re on track to complete the new theatre by late summer of 2022.

In the meantime, Diamond Head Theatre is weeks away from opening its largest production since pre-pandemic times.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, “A Chorus Line,” last premiered on the Diamond Head Theatre stage in 1985 when Tommy Aguilar — who played Paul San Marco on Broadway — obtained the rights from Michael Bennett himself to direct the show at DHT.

“I mean it was the show that made me want to become a dancer,” said Greg Zane, the director and choreographer of the show.

Zane didn’t take formal singing or dancing classes as a child, but when he saw “A Chorus Line,” he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

In DHT’s 1985 production, Zane stood in Aguilar’s shoes as he performed as Paul. He later went on to have a long career performing on Broadway, choreographing national tours and directing musicals in the theatre he grew up in.

Returning to this show 36 years later, Zane said he wants the cast to honor the people that came before them who were in the same roles, especially now.

“This being back in the theatre is like reclaiming our identities in who we are and what we love,” Zane said.

For cast member Emily North, it’s been 10 years since she’s performed on stage, and after working in the Queen’s Medical Center COVID ICU throughout the pandemic, tears filled her eyes as she talked about what it feels like to be back on stage.

“I know there’s magic in the theatre, but you feel it and you go there and everything’s ok and everyone’s a family, and it’s nice to have that again,” North said, “It’s an escape from everything we’re going through.”

North plays the role of Diana Morales, described as “streetwise, determined and an eternal optimistic.” She sings the well-known song, “What I Did For Love,” which holds a message that sits close to home when North reflects on the past year.

“A Chorus Line” opens July 16 and runs until August 1.

For ticket information and updates on the new theatre, click here.

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