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UH Hilo Performing Arts Center

Exterior of Theatre as seen from Kawili Street

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Performing Arts Center is the major performing arts educational and cultural center on the Big Island, serving as a joint special use facility for the University and Big Island Communities. The Performing Arts Center is primarily an instructional facility providing for the regular educational functions of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, whose purpose is to offer significant educational and diverse cultural opportunities -- where dialogue, the exchange of cultural and artistic ideas and co-curricular activities are encouraged.

The Performing Arts Center produces, presents and/or co-sponsors an extensive and culturally diverse year-round Season of local, regional, national, and international performing arts events performed by some of the world's greatest artists. The quality of events presented in the 600-seat Theatre is equal to any offered by major mainland universities. A typical year includes over 150 performances of dance, drama, music, mime, children's shows, lectures and special events.

The UH Hilo Performing Arts Center in cooperation with the UH Hilo Performing Arts Department also produces two to six plays, concerts, musicals and dance performances each season. Interested faculty, staff, students and community members are encouraged to participate in the activities of the Performing Arts Center.

Upcoming Events

  • Garry Krinsky ~ Toying with Science

    September 28th @ 7:00 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Garry Krinsky ~ Toying with Science

    It has been said that Garry Krinsky resembles a living cartoon with his animated movement and non-stop energy. His performance of Toying with Science, a fast-paced, varied and dynamic program that was commissioned and developed with the Museum of Science in Boston, brings science to life with motion, music, humor and insight.

    This performance explores the scientific principles of gravity, leverage, fulcrums, simple machines and so much more. Combining circus skills, mime, original music and audience involvement, Garry and his audience investigate basic scientific information and delve into the imaginations of scientists who explore our world. Suitable for children and adults of all ages!

    A performance by Garry Krinsky is truly a unique experience!


  • Christopher K. Morgan and Artists present PŌHAKU

    October 26th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Christopher K. Morgan and Artists present PŌHAKU

    Choreographer Christopher Kauʻi Morgan longed to connect his Native Hawaiian artistic and personal roots to his contemporary work.  Pōhaku is a dance theater piece bringing together storytelling, hula, modern dance, classical music, and projection design to explore compelling universal themes in the story of Hawaii’s native people, including land loss and fractured identity. The work incorporates Morgan’s own stories to reflect these larger themes. Pōhaku is partly inspired by Morgan’s late cousin, Kumu Hula John Kaimikaua (1957-2006).  This evening length solo dance performed by Morgan, features live music by Kumu Hula Elsie Kaleihulukea Ryder of Kaimikaua’s Hālau Hula o Kukunaokalā, and classically trained electric cellist Wytold.

    “A vast range of conceptual beauty…that inspires conversation long after you leave the room.” – Breena Seigel, DC Metro Theatre Arts

    The presentation of Pōhaku was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Pōhaku is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Maui Arts & Cultural Center in partnership with Dance Place and NPN. For more information: www.npnweb.org.

    Production residency funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


  • Martha Redbone presents Bone Hill - The Concert

    October 28th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Martha Redbone presents Bone Hill - The Concert

    Martha Redbone presents Bone Hill - The Concert
    Music and lyrics by Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby
    Written by Martha Redbone, Roberta Uno and Aaron Whitby

    In Bone Hill – the Concert, 2 singer/actors and 6 musicians become the characters from four generations of of women in a Cherokee family living high on a mountain top in Appalachia. In telling their stories Ms. Redbone travels back in time to her own childhood and beyond into the memories and tales of her ancestors, taking the audience on an epic, unexpected American exploration of family, history, and identity. It is a story about the family’s connection to the land – the simplicity and sacredness of that connection and the ruptures that threaten to extinguish it.

    The story is told in a narrative style driven by songs that span a swathe of American music from traditional Cherokee chants and lullabies to bluegrass, blues, country, gospel, jazz, rock & roll, R-n-B, and funk. The music is radically wide ranging, the story is simply radical.

    “It isn’t tripped up by uncomfortable truths and unresolved conflicts…(Bone Hill – The Concert) asks with a coy wink and a stern stare: “What is native to American music?” – Larry Blumenfeld, contributor to The Wall Street Journal

    Originally commissioned by NY Voices/Joe's Pub and The Public Theater, Co-commissioners Lincoln Center for the Arts, Miami Light Project, Pa'i Foundation, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
    Supported by grants from NEFA NTP and NPN Creation Fund.


  • The Ghosts of Hiroshima

    November 17th @ 7:30 pmNovember 18th @ 7:30 pmNovember 19th @ 7:30 pmNovember 20th @ 2:00 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    By Deborah Lubar with Diane Wickes Roose
    Directed by Jackie Pualani Johnson

    “…..just like shadows. The shock was so great they had lost words, they could not speak; everyone was very, very quiet. Even the children did not cry. Silence”. - Miss Shibama

    The words of survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima are framed against the hard facts about nuclear weapons in this stirring theatrical consideration of the effects of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killing 146,000 people.

    “When I look at children, I pledge that I must help to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Indeed, this is my only remaining wish.” - Miss Shibama

    Images, words, science, and poetry interweave through the repercussions of the bombing, allowing all to understand the scale and impact of nuclear weaponry. The theatrical conventions of movement, dance, and masks allow the ideas to be considered in a startling, revealing manner.

    The Performing Arts Department presents this landmark offering as an ode to the times and temperaments found in today’s global landscape. At the heart of the production is the consideration of the human costs of war.


  • Great Leaps Fall 2016 - Preview

    December 2nd @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Enjoy over 150 UH Hilo, Hawaiʻi CC and Community dancers perform Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Aerial Dance pieces choreographed by instructors Celeste Staton, Annie Bunker and Kea Kapahua, as well as guest choreographers and graduating students’ senior projects.


  • Great Leaps Fall 2016

    December 3rd @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Enjoy over 150 UH Hilo, Hawaiʻi CC and Community dancers perform Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Aerial Dance pieces choreographed by instructors Celeste Staton, Annie Bunker and Kea Kapahua, as well as guest choreographers and graduating students’ senior projects.


  • UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra - 4th Annual Frank Zappa Tribute

    December 7th @ 7:30 pmDecember 8th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Back by popular demand the UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra presents its 4th Annual Frank Zappa Tribute Concert!  The Zappa shows have quickly become audience favorites, to the point where we've added a 2nd night to accommodate the demand.  A hit with Zappa fans and non-fans alike, concert goers often tell us "I've never gotten into Zappa before, but I had so much fun at this show I can't wait to see next year's concert!"  Come see what all the buzz is about!  


  • Holiday Card to Hilo: Christmas Around the World

    December 11th @ 2:00 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Holiday traditions from around the world sparkle and shine in this concert celebrating the season. Our annual holiday concert is a Hilo tradition, bringing families together each year to hear Christmas favorites, new songs of the season, and special guest artists. This year the concert travels the world to showcase seasonal traditions from near and far. Mele Kalikimaka!

    Featuring the UH Hilo Kapili Choir and the University Chorus under the direction of Amy Horst and the Orchid Isle Orchestra under the direction of Cathy Young.


  • Black Arm Band: Dirtsong

    January 20th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Black Arm Band: Dirtsong

    Black Arm Band is a collective of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) who are widely acclaimed for their distinctive music theatre performances, and celebration of indigenous culture, language and uniquely powerful visual imagery. At the heart of Black Arm Band’s ethos is their relationship with the indigenous communities from where their work draws its inspiration.

    Performing with exceptional artistry, authentic storytelling, profoundly affecting performances and an artistic memorandum of celebration-revolution-reconciliation, this is one show that is not to be missed.

    “Never didactic or preachy, dirtsong was a purely celebratory experience of a vibrant, living and constantly evolving culture.” The Advertiser (Adelaide)

    “Up on stage at Hamer Hall on Friday night were some of the greatest performers this country can presently boast of…a phenomenon as significant to the national cultural life as Aboriginal art.” The Age


  • Jamie Adkins Circus Incognitus

    January 26th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Jamie Adkins is a man of considerable talent and deft wit. In his one man show Circus Incognitus, his numerous skills are on fine display as he performs acrobatic feats, juggles almost everything, negotiates a slack wire and wrangles with various props in situations both comedic and poetic. What makes Adkins’ shows so relatable to his audiences is his ability to portray the ordinary man in situations that display his physical prowess alongside his charm and keen sense of humor.

    In Circus Incognitus, Adkins takes his performance far beyond the bounds of a single role and creates an artistic event that springs from his rich inner world.

    “This agile, endearing man generates plenty of laughs as well as audience identification. It adds up to a lovely hour of physical comedy” ★★★★ The Times 

    “Mr. Adkins has actually fulfilled the promise of ringleaders everywhere. It’s a show for all ages!” The New York Sun


  • The WonderHeads: LOON

    February 3rd @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    The WonderHeads: LOON

    Acclaimed physical theatre company and mask imagineers the WONDERHEADS bring you a love story that whisks a man to the moon and back. Francis, a lonely janitor who is plagued by isolation and tickled by whispers of childhood imagination, has hit rock bottom and discovers that he has nowhere to go...but up! But will plucking the moon from the sky bring him the love he is searching for?

    LOON is performed in full-face mask, a form so magical you will forget your age and marvel in childlike delight. Wordless and whimsical, it has been described by audiences as watching a living cartoon, or live-action Pixar.

    Winner of four Critics’ Choice Awards, three Best of Fest Awards, and described by the CBC as “Pure magic”, LOON is a beautifully surprising mix of physical theatre, comedy and pathos—a love story the likes of which you’ve never seen.


  • Dobet Gnahoré

    February 22nd @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Dobet Gnahoré

    Ivory Coast vocalist and dancer Dobet Gnahoré has garnered a reputation as one of the most vibrant performers in world music. Her extraordinary talents position her to set the course for the genre. “Take the energy of Lauryn Hill, the consciousness of India.Arie and the mystique of Erykah Badu and you got Dobet Ganhoré,” says St Louis American.

    As a child, Gnahoré trained in the music and dance traditions of the Bété people at the urging of her father, a well-known performer and master percussionist in West Africa. Gnahoré’s voice, dancing, charisma, and vibrant stage presence is the result of years of theatrical and choreographic work and brings audiences everywhere to their feet. Gnahoré sings in a range of African languages including Bété, Fon, Baoule, Lingala, Malinke, Mina and Bambara.

    In 2010 she shared an award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance with India.Arie at the 52nd Grammy® Awards and has released several albums, including her latest Na Drê in 2014.


  • Aparna Ramaswamy presents They Rose at Dawn

    March 7th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Aparna Ramaswamy presents They Rose at Dawn

    Under the direction of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, Ragamala Dance Company's work explores the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the contemporary. As choreographers and performers, Ranee and Aparna create dance landscapes that dwell in opposition—secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness—to find the transcendence that lies in between. As mother and daughter, each brings her generational experience to the work—the rich traditions, deep philosophical roots, and ancestral wisdom of India meeting and merging with the curiosity, openness, and creative freedom fostered in the United States.

    They Rose at Dawn is a solo work, depicting women as carriers of ritual. Navigating inner and outer worlds, invoking a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of imagination. A stellar 5 piece Carnatic musical ensemble accompanies Aparna Ramaswamy as she explores the spontaneous interplay between music and movement and the dynamic contours created by the artists onstage.

    “the eye often goes straight to Ms. Ramaswamy’s impeccable technique and incandescent beauty. Through her dancing, the music’s textures come into view”
    – Siobhan Burke, The New York Times

    “Aparna Ramaswamy is a vision of sculptural lucidity whose dancing brings a full-bodied awareness to complex rhythms and shifts of dynamics.” – Gia Kourlas, The New York Times

    The presentation of They Rose at Dawn was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


  • Compagnie Hervé Koubi ~ What the Day Owes to the Night

    March 28th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Compagnie Hervé Koubi ~ What the Day Owes to the Night

    Hervé Koubi grew up in the South of France where he studied both biology and dance at the University of Aix-en- Provence before graduating as a Pharmaceutical Doctor. After deciding to concentrate on a dancing career and graduating from the world-renowned Rosella Hightower School of Dance in Cannes, Koubi gained professional experience as a dancer with the Opera de Marseille.

    Since then, he has developed many contemporary dance projects in collaboration with various artists, writers, choreographers and musicians from the world over. His latest major choreographic work is entitled What the Day Owes to the Night and is inspired by his own personal journey and discovery of his Algerian heritage. His all male cast of dancers has toured extensively around the world before debuting the full length production in the United States in October 2015. Since then it has received numerous standing ovations and acclaim for its incredible physicality, powerful imagery and inspired choreography. Utilizing urban and contemporary dance movements, capoeira, and martial arts to bring the piece to life, dancers literally defy gravity and take the audience’s collective breath away.

    “No momentum was necessary, as if…there was no such thing as physics” The Washington Post

    “There was a mesmerizingly fluid strength in their low-skimming flight and slow tumbling, and whistles were replaced by gasps as one man after another ran up the backs of his fellows to leap or fall backward or be tossed shockingly high into the air.” The New York Times

    The presentation of What the Day Owes to the Night was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


  • Evita

    April 7th @ 7:30 pmApril 8th @ 7:30 pmApril 9th @ 2:00 pmApril 12th @ 2:00 pmApril 13th @ 7:30 pmApril 14th @ 7:30 pmApril 15th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.
    Evita

    The UH Hilo Performing Art Center’s Amateur Production of Evita

    Lyrics by Tim Rice and Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
    Directed by Jackie Pualani Johnson
    With Musical Director Armand Mendoza and Choreographer Celeste Staton

    Argentina's controversial First Lady is the subject of this dynamic musical masterpiece. As an illegitimate fifteen-year-old, Eva escaped her dirt-poor existence for the bright lights of Buenos Aires. Driven by ambition and blessed with charisma, she was a starlet at twenty-two, the president's mistress at twenty-four, First Lady at twenty-seven, and dead at thirty-three. Eva Peron 'saint to the working-class, reviled by the aristocracy and mistrusted by the military' was destined to leave a fascinating political legacy unique in the 20th century. Told through a compelling score that fuses haunting chorales with exuberant Latin, pop and jazz influences, Evita creates an arresting theatrical portrait as complex as the woman herself.


  • Great Leaps Spring 2017 - Preview

    April 28th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Enjoy over 150 UH Hilo, Hawaiʻi CC and Community dancers perform Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Aerial Dance pieces choreographed by instructors Celeste Staton, Annie Bunker and Kea Kapahua, as well as guest choreographers and graduating students’ senior projects.


  • Great Leaps Spring 2017

    April 29th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Enjoy over 150 UH Hilo, Hawaiʻi CC and Community dancers perform Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Aerial Dance pieces choreographed by instructors Celeste Staton, Annie Bunker and Kea Kapahua, as well as guest choreographers and graduating students’ senior projects.


  • UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra Concert

    May 4th @ 7:30 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.


  • We Sing The Spring, 35 Years of Jackie!

    May 7th @ 2:00 pm
    Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

    Jackie Pualani Johnson's contributions to the musical theatre life of Hilo have been innumerable. This concert pays tribute to Jackie and the music she has brought to Hilo. As she wrote in her own Hilo: Da Musical!, "Da music in Hilo is nevah, evah, evah… evah…evah goin’ end!"


For a full calendar of events, see our Monthly Calendar.