Virtual cheer: Groups move holiday shows, performances online

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Jackie Pualani Johnson performs a song dressed as a nun last week for the Hilo Community Players' virtual Christmas cabaret in Hilo. Performers taped their acts live from a living room for the intimate, virtual show.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Michelle Kratel is filmed while singing a holiday song for the Hilo Community Players' virtual Christmas cabaret. Performers taped their acts live from a living room for the intimate, virtual show.

Hilo holiday programs set their sights to online streaming to bring music, dancing and holiday cheer to households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hilo Community Players announced four showings its “A (Virtual) Christmas Cabaret,” which will feature about 30 holiday performances that were filmed live and edited together to create a cohesive cabaret.


Some talent this year includes Norman Arancon, Jackie Pualani Johnson, Michael Stevens, Jeri Gertz and Erin Smith.

Rachel Klein, president of the HCP board of directors, offered a corner of her living room to record the acts before editing the show together. Technicians, musicians and camera operators all wore masks and sanitized touched surfaces after every use.

“We wanted to create an intimate living room-to-living room show since we can’t actually perform live,” Klein said. “We wanted to create a safe, comfortable atmosphere that will help watchers feel at home.”

To help lessen the financial strain, the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Department and Paradise Performing Arts Center donated some equipment to help HCP transition to a virtual program.

“The skills and equipment needed to film this are totally different than stage performances,” Klein said. “We’ve had to spend a lot to make this change as a nonprofit, so this will be a helpful fundraiser for us.”

“A (Virtual) Christmas Cabaret” will be available to watch at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 18, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 20, and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 24.

The Hilo Community Players also partnered with AlohaMondays to offer three holiday menus, as well as specialty cocktails.

The meals will be partially baked and will be available for pick up from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for evening shows, and 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for matinees at the Klein Natural Health and Wellness Center.

Anyone interested in purchasing dinner and drinks along with their tickets for shows on Dec. 18 and Dec. 20 must place their orders no later than 10 a.m. on Dec. 15. Orders for the show on Christmas Eve must be purchased no later than 10 a.m. on Dec. 21.

Tickets and meals can be purchased at, which also is where the shows will be streamed from.

Hawaii Care Choices will be hosting a free, virtual event, “Season of Hope,” to celebrate the Christmas holiday at 5 p.m. on Dec. 23 on its Facebook and YouTube pages.

There will be five performances of music and dance along with different holiday blessings given by four clergy from the Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist and Hawaiian faiths.

The event will culminate with a star-burning ceremony, which will be matched with music by Mark Yamanaka.

Anyone interested in participating can download a photo of a star from the Hawaii Care Choices website and fill out the blank spaces with messages of love, special memories and hopes for the new year.

“Burning the stars will be our way of sending the written messages to the heavens,” spokesperson Lani Weigert said. “Anyone that wants to be a part of this is welcome to write whatever they need to write after this year.”

The star must be returned to Hawaii Care Choices in-person or by mail by Dec. 22 to be included in the star-burning ceremony.

Although the event will be virtual, Weigert hopes viewers will still be able to feel the hopefulness the holidays usually bring.

“The purpose of this event is to inspire, uplift and heal with gratitude, hope and aloha,” Weigert said. “We want people to watch the event safely in their own homes to take a moment to be together and remember loved ones passed.”

Another holiday show coming from Hilo will be the free, live-streamed holiday concert, “Home for the Hilodays,” from the Palace Theater.

Audiences can watch a live broadcast from the stage featuring eight performances by local talent at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 on Palace Theater’s website.


After the initial broadcast, the show will be available to stream at home through Jan. 1.

Email Kelsey Walling at

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