‘I’m living my dream’: Hawaii woman makes Broadway debut in ‘Funny Girl’

Local girl Candice Hatakeyama recently made her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl."
Local girl Candice Hatakeyama recently made her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl."(@canditheduck/Instagram)
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 11:54 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Candice Hatakeyama always knew she wanted to be on stage. But she never imagined she’d realize her dream of being on Broadway soon after graduating from college.

Just last month, the Honolulu native made her Broadway debut with the cast of “Funny Girl,” alongside former “Glee” actress Lea Michele.


“Everyone always says it’s the big end-all, be-all, and that’s what everyone tries to get to,” Hatakeyama said. “And it was definitely a dream then. I just never imagined it happening so soon. And I am so grateful that I’m living my dream right now.”

Hatakeyama grew up in Salt Lake and attended Maemae Elementary School and Punahou School.

She said she caught the musical theater bug when she was just a little girl, starting dance classes at 6 years old.

“My parents kind of raised me on Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, the classic old MGM musicals. And they would always take me to see shows around town like community theater productions,” she said.

Her first musical was “Oklahoma” at Punahou, which was part of a summer school experience.

But things got a little more serious when she went to Syracuse University in New York, where she got her BFA in musical theater. She starred in numerous regional productions — from “42nd Street” and “Cabaret” to “Catch Me if You Can” and multiple Shakespeare Festivals.

“You really get the knowledge and you find gratitude and so much love for all the people who make theater happen,” Hatakeyama said. “It really does take a village. There’s so many people — not just the people on stage taking the bows — who should get all the credit for making theater production possible.”

Then, she got the call for Broadway.

She described the process of auditioning for “Funny Girl” as a whirlwind. She auditioned on a Thursday, got the call the next day, and started rehearsal the next week.

She said it was her first experience with jumping into a show that had already been running since she was coming in as a replacement for an existing ensemble member.

“It’s baffling to me that I am in a cast with Lea Michele and Ramin Karimloo — two incredible performers who I’ve been watching on stage and screen since years and years ago when I first had a dream of being on Broadway,” Hatakeyama said.

While she’s always looking forward to what’s next, Hatakeyama said she’s staying focused on the present because “you only get your first Broadway show once and your Broadway debut once.”

“It definitely is my preferred way of just expressing my my emotion and my happiness and the pandemic has been hard for a lot of people, but especially the theater industry in general. And I’m so grateful that it’s coming back slowly but surely,” she said.