Christmas Cabaret; Fundraiser for East Hawaii Cultural Center opens Friday

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald From left, Joanne Poscidio, Michael Kealoha Stevens and Greg Lupton rehearse Thursday at the East Hawaii Cultural Center for the Christmas Cabaret, which will be hosted this weekend by the Hilo Community Players at the cultural center.
  • Photos: HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald From left, Ricky Alvarez and Phill Russell on Thursday at the East Hawaii Cultural Center practice their duet for the Christmas Cabaret, which will be hosted by the Hilo Community Players this weekend at the cultural center.

Celebrate the season and support local theater when the Hilo Community Players host a Christmas Cabaret fundraiser this weekend at the East Hawaii Cultural Center.

Shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 21) and Saturday (Dec. 22) and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 23), and will also have pupus and drinks.

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“It’s a Christmas Cabaret, so it’s really a holiday-themed cabaret event,” said Rachel Klein, one of the event’s producers. “We’re going to have live music performed by some of the really great singers of Hilo with live piano. … It’s going to be a ton of fun. So picture evening gowns and piano music and just kind of (a) classy holiday celebration.”

Featured performers include pianist Zeke Israel, Jackie Pualani Johnson, Norman Arancon, Michael Kealoha Stevens, Lisa Katherine Taylor, Joanne Poscidio, Samantha Shea, Phill Russell, Ricky Alvarez, Neva Kanani Supe-Roque, Miriam Wilson, Mike Kingston, Greg Lupton and Meili Aspen.

This is the first year the theater group has done a fundraiser of this nature, but Klein said the organization is “hoping it will become an annual thing.”

“We may do it again next year, or do something different but similar,” she said. “But we kind of decided that the holiday time is a good time to do a project like this, a fundraiser kind of project.”

According to Klein, money raised from the event will be used to fund the spring portion of the current theater season as well as the early part of the group’s 2019-20 season.

“We’re hoping to raise a good amount of money to keep theater and the arts alive and well in Hilo,” said Klein. “(We) had really good success with our last couple of productions and the community’s been really receptive to what we’re doing, and so we just want to keep it going, nice and strong.”

But because it’s the first year for the fundraiser, Klein said she didn’t have an estimate of how much the group hoped to raise from the event.

The “goal would be to raise enough funds to be able to put on our Shakespeare (in the Park) production without worry, but my goal for the (cabaret) production in general is not about money, even though it is a fundraiser,” she said. “It’s just that everybody have a fantastic time and it really be a wonderful, sort of bright holiday event that people enjoy and have a really great time at …”

Hilo Community Players’ Shakespeare in the Park is offered free to the community, Klein said, and grants, fundraising and donations have to cover the cost of the production, which is one of the “big expenses” for which the group raises fund every year.

Klein said her goal in setting the line up was inclusion, “so we’ve chosen a lot of songs that are Christmas songs, but we’ve also chosen a lot of songs that are just winter-themed or New Year’s-themed” as well as Hanukkah.

“We’ve tried to make it well-rounded so there’s a little bit (of) something there for everybody.”

While it’s a family-friendly event, the cabaret is geared toward adults.

Tickets are $35 and include the show, two drinks and pupus. Additional drinks will be available for purchase. IDs will be required for beer, wine and holiday cocktails.

Klein said seating will be limited and encouraged those who plan to attend to purchase tickets in advance.

“I’m feeling like this is going to be a sold-out kind of thing, just based on popularity of other shows we’ve done,” she said. “I don’t want people to miss out.”

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Purchase tickets at Basically Books, located at 1672 Kamehameha Ave. in Hilo or online at hiloplayers.org.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.