Kahilu Theatre gets $1.5M to renovate building


The Kahilu Theatre will receive a makeover this summer with the help of a state grant.

The 33-year-old theater in Waimea is receiving $1.5 million for capital improvements, which, perhaps most importantly, will pay for a new roof.

“The roof is the single biggest thing,” said Tim Bostock, artistic and managing director, who noted that it’s leaking in 17 places.

“It’s very embarrassing stepping over a bucket literally as you are stepping on stage to do a curtain speech,” he said.

The money will also help pay for new auditorium curtains and seats, and stairways and handrails at the front entrance.

The 490-seat theater will also receive upgrades to its electrical and sound systems, as well as its restrooms.

Bostock said much of the work will occur during slow periods during the summer.

The renovations also come as the theater recovers from a nearly yearlong “intermission” that ended last June.

During that time, it lost its staff and held none of its own programming as it sought financial stability.

Bostock said the theater, with the help of the community, has done well since.

That’s thanks in part to a new membership program that has 200 members.

“We’re in a good place,” Bostock said. “I’d never say comfortable.”

He said the theater also has the community to thank for the grant.

“Much to our delight, and maybe surprise, the community is really what made it happen,” Bostock said.

“Without their support for this, the capital grant wouldn’t have gone through.”

The theater opened in 1981 and was the idea of Richard Smart, who was a performer and heir to Parker Ranch.

Smart died in 1992. The theater remained part of the ranch until 1994 when it became independent.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.