Songs & Stories Podcast: The Kahilu Theatre Looks Forward


Although the Kahilu Theatre has been closed to the public since March, it’s making plans to offer multi-camera live stream concerts and much more. The theatre’s Artistic Director Chuck Gessert explains what the public can look forward to when they reopen.

Listen to this week’s episode above, and subscribe to the Songs & Stories for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also check out an excerpt of the podcast’s transcript below.

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Steve Roby: What’s the theater been doing to stay in touch with the community since its closure?

Chuck Gessert: We are such a community gathering place. And that’s really our mission, you know, “Where arts, entertainment, and education thrive.” And we seek to inspire the community by gathering them, you know, in one place, and so, we’ve been unable to do that, since the pandemic hit. So one of the things we’ve been doing is preparing the theater for the future. And that has been taking place on a number of fronts. Number one is we’re addressing public safety. And we’re doing a rehaul or overhaul of our bathroom facilities so that when we bring the public back in, we’ll have touchless toilets. And faucets and paper towel dispensers and hand sanitizer dispensers, and thankfully we had just gotten some money from the state that we had applied for three years ago for capital improvements. So, we’re able to retrofit our restroom facilities. One of the things we’re looking forward to is opening up hopefully sometime in the fall [with a]social distance model, and having maybe 50 to 99 people in our main theater, socially distanced.

Roby: Roping off rows or something like that?

Gessert: Right. We would have every other row. That gives us six feet [apart], and then four empty seats between other people, that gives us another six feet. So, comfortability, we could fit 50 to 99 people in the theater, and we’ve invested in four video cameras that are pan-tilt-zoom, so, we’re hoping to offer a live experience, and video streaming, and then also archive the concerts so that we can share revenue with the artists. You know, even though we can only put 50 people in the seats, we can share revenue streaming with the artists. And then also, we’re looking forward to opening up our market to the entire world. We’re looking at primarily focusing on Hawaiian culture and music, we feel that that is a niche that we can make much more than a niche and what we’re “big picture” looking at is identifying up-and-coming artists as well as some of our, our traditional favorites and helping them promote themselves all over the world. When you look at, you know, our maximum capacity at the theater is 484 seats before the pandemic… on a good video live streaming [event], who knows how much that could bring…


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