The Hilo Community Players offers the riveting drama, The Last Princess, a world-premiere play about Princess Kaʻiulani that brings to life the heartbreaking loss of Hawaii’s independence. Written by Hilo playwright, Jackie Prell, the play will be performed from April 12 to April 21, with Friday and Saturday evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m., at the East Hawaiʻi Cultural Centerʻs Kahua ʻElua second-floor theatre. The final two performances of The Last Princess will be offered during Merrie Monarch Week, on Monday and Tuesday, April 22nd and 23rd, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.HiloPlayers.org or at Basically Books. Jackie Pualani Johnson is the director of this Hawaiian history, which features Tyler Dela Cruz as young Kaʻiulani and Ka’iulani Lum-Ho as the older version of the Princess. Playing opposite her will be Michael Kealoha Stevens as Archibald Cleghorn, Kaiʻulaniʻs Scottish father, with Desiree Moana Cruz, as Princess Likelike, her mother. Bob Duerr will play the pivotal role of King Kalakaua and Evette Ewalani Tampos will create Queen Liliʻuokalani, the Kingʻs royal sister. Neva Supe-Roque will appear as Miss Gardinier, Kaʻiulaniʻs guardian. The devisors of the overthrow will be portrayed by Ray Campainha as Lorrin Thurston; Dan Lindsay as Sanford Dole, and Brennan Low and Adam Zaki as co-conspirators. Rounding out the lead roles are George Kahao III as Koa and Reece Naukana-Christensen as Toby, Kaʻiulaniʻs contemporaries. An array of other historical figures will be played by David Penhallow-Scott and Miriam Wilson (Mr. & Mrs. Davies); Jerry Terpak and Marnie Honeycutt (President and Mrs. Cleveland); Elsa Burbank (Eva Parker); and Jeffrey North Wilson (U.S. Minister Willis). The remaining cast, in an assortment of roles, includes: Jada Diamond Star Cathcart, Jenny Gardham, Chaske Harrison, Desmon Haumea, Sawyer Lewis, Carolyn Lee, Catherine McPherson-Tampos, Susan OʻNeill, Zoe Rose.
The Hilo Community Players was established in 1938 and is one of the state’s oldest amateur theater groups. It is an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 non-profit organization that produces Shakespeare in Kalākaua Park each summer, the oldest on-going Shakespeare tradition in Hawai’i. Director Johnson was born and raised in Hilo and her own Hawaiian heritage infuses her storytelling with passion and insight. The Last Princess is the latest in her long line of legacy performances that give life to our recent past. She informs her productions with her teacher’s fine sensibilities and her 38 years as the head of UH Hilo’s Performing Arts Department ring out in every scene. As the last in the line of the Kalākaua branch of Hawaii’s royal lineage, Kaʻiulani was the perfect blend of two cultures, two countries, two blood lines. She was stunningly beautiful, sensitive, and highly intelligent. Her Scottish father sent her to finish her education in England, and to keep her safe from the Provisional Government intrigues in Honolulu. Hawaii’s last Princess embodied the painful struggles of her homeland. Kaʻiulani’s mother, Princess Likelike, died at the age of 36 and her dying words to her daughter carried a tragic prophesy. Her father, Archibald Cleghorn, loved his adopted home and he worked hard to defend Hawaii from the damage of the greedy sugar barons. He used his wealth and influence to protect his beautiful daughter, but her fate-and the fate of Hawaii-were sealed by the imperialistic ambitions of late 19th century America. The Hilo Community Players are happy to invite you to the first of many plays about Hawaiian history, a tradition the Players trust will enrich the festival of Hawaiian Culture in the Capital of Old Hawai’i, Hilo.