Page 6 - Hawaii Island MidWeek - January 18, 2023
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     Who’s getting ready for a brand-new experience at Diamond Head Theatre? None other than executive director Deena Dray and artistic director John Rampage.
  Growing old is almost never a lasting issue for buildings. When
  their designs turn stale, ren- ovation breathes life into them. When their walls, pipes and amenities need to be retrofitted and cleaned, refurbishment brings a sense of renewal. And when com- plete overhauls are necessary, tearing down and rebuilding become the gateway to fresh beginnings.
most of its former digs and building anew. Gone is the historic Fort Ruger Theatre on Makapu‘u Avenue, and in its place (well, technically, next to where the old facility once stood) is the present-day “Broadway of the Pacific” — a 17,000-square-foot picture of theater modernity that is about to be unveiled to the general public.
ater, marvels at the speed in which the $23 million project was accomplished. In a two- year span that began in late 2020, construction workers have fashioned a state-of-the- art theater on the slopes of Diamond Head, and demol- ished the old one (completed over a two-day period last November and following the last showing of the Broadway hit Anything Goes), leaving only a portion of the previ- ous structure so that it could house administrative offices, costume shops and education studios.
rary auditorium for theater lovers. “In my mind, it was done in record time, which is amazing given that we were in the middle of a pandemic when it started.”
So it is with Diamond Head Theatre, the nation’s third oldest community playhouse. Seventy years after taking up residence in a movie house from the De- pression era, DHT decided to give its aging structure the old heave-ho, razing
It all begins with the fami- ly-favorite show Cinderella, which pulls back the curtains for audiences starting on Jan. 20. (See story on page 7.)
Dray credits general con- tractor Allied Builders Sys- tem with pushing the proj- ect along rapidly — key to ensuring a smooth transition in seating reassignments for thousands of anxious 2022- 23 season ticket-holders.
Executive director Dee- na Dray, who’s witnessed a number of impressive pro- ductions over the course of her nearly three decade-long career at the community the-
“This has been a game-changer for us ... a big thing,” says Dray of the project that has delivered a captivating and contempo-
“But everybody has their tickets now, they’re happy and we’ re ready to go!” she adds.
Work on the new Diamond Head Theatre began in late 2020. While the facility will be ready for the Jan. 20 opening of Cinderella, landscaping won’t be complete until sometime in the spring.
That sense of glee is sure to continue in the days ahead. In fact, Dray believes theatergo- ers will not only be impressed but dazzled by the well-de-
signed facility. She calls the architects’ usage of space “exciting,” thanks in part to the construction of a spacious
stage, seats that are properly raked (steeper angles assur- ing ideal sight lines for audi-

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