Berkeley KPFA radio host/poet
After the performance at La Pena Cultural Center in October, 2015.
“Last night Adelle and I saw a remarkable one-man play, The Legend of Ko’olau. Written by Gary T. Kubota, it’s the story of the “Hawaiian outlaw cowboy,” Kaluaiko’olau and his resistance to political and moral forces he gradually comes to understand are eroding not only himself but the entire Hawaiian people.
A compassionate man who has worked with lepers, Kaluaiko’olau becomes a leper himself. The play documents his struggle to maintain his sense of dignity and his armed refusal to be treated in the inhumane way that lepers were treated. With his wife and young son he becomes an emblem of resistance—a “legend.” But to put it that way is leave out the many humanizing touches playwright Kubota has given the man—his multiple conflicting allegiances, his anger, his humor, his guilt about a murder he felt compelled to commit, his conflicts about religion, his deep love for his wife and son.
Kaluaiko’olau is portrayed by a young actor, Moronai Kanekoa, who is more than equal to the wide range of emotions he has to express as the rebel hero: Kanekoa commands the stage like a great dancer, rising, falling, covering every inch of the space—constantly engaging the audience as his moving monologue goes on and on: he is boyish, manly, frightened, courageous, loving, bewildered, angry—all those things that a person in such a situation might be.
Beautifully directed by Monte Scott Perez, The Legend of Ko’olau illuminates a rich, dark history of our country.
More than 600 attended a sold-out performance at Sacramento City College’s Performing Arts Theatre on April 10, 2016.
Here’s what the audience said:
“Fabulous show.” — Iwalani Whitmarsh, Sacramento resident.
“Loved it. A must-see if it comes to your area!” — Veronica Pettibone, Sacramento resident.
“Absolutely wonderful performance. So glad I went.” — Marilyn Clausse Huddy, Sacramento resident.
“It was amazing!” — Janet Weisshaar Horowitz, Sacramento resident.
“Great performance!” — Joanna Viray Lagman- Snyder, Sacramento resident.
“It was a great day and an awesome play!” Martina Haleamau, event organizer for ONIPA’A.
“Ko’olau is an eye opener, and Moronai is an amazing actor.” — Moana Peke Lee, Sacramento resident.
Los Angeles and Hawaii
“Stunning performance! This play should be performed nationwide and presented on PBS.” – Glenda Berry, head librarian, State of Hawaii-Makawao Library.
“It’s the best play I’ve ever seen!” Liz Singer, 93, Los Angeles.
“I loved the show...I hope it gets a run here. (The actor) was fantastic!” Anthony Sepulveda, Warner Bros. vice president of casting (West Wing among others).
“Monumental!” Allan Isbell, teacher and former editor, South Maui Times.
“I really wish there were another LA screening of this. It was amazing.“ - Pualilia Hernandez, Los Angeles
“It was phenomenal!” Joycelyn Romero Demirbag, chair of the Maui Independent Schools.
“It’s one of the most powerful productions I have seen in over 60 years of theater going.” – Puloku Hayes, Los Angeles.
“Wonderful show...What an excellent and moving play! – Los Angeles Kumu Hula Chase “Keoki” Wang.
“...A beautifully written piece and a gorgeous performance. I’m so glad I came out to see it!” Teri Reeves, Los Angeles actress.
“The play was good! My wife Barbara and I thoroughly enjoyed it.” Jon Shirota, author of “Lucky Come Hawaii” and former Maui resident living in Los Angeles.
“A gripping love story!” Alan Murakami, past president of the Japanese American Citizens League Hawaii.
“A...form of skydiving.” – Keo Woolford, director of the original Legend of Koolau on Maui and film The Haumana and play Three Year Swim Club.
“Awesome... This should be a film.”- John Wehrheim, filmmaker of “Bhutan” and “Taylor Camp.”
“It was magnificent.” – Victoria Alvarez, Sheraton Resort concierge.
“Chicken-skin brilliant...unbelievably wonderful!” – Suzi Osborne, retired publisher, Mauiana Magazine.
“The play was amazing. It was deeply moving... on many levels.” – Christy Brown, San Francisco, California
“A beautiful and stirring dramatization based on the true story of a family struggling... Well worth attending if you can.” – Na Mele O Hawaii.
“I thought the play was incredibly moving...I appreciated the history and also... a show that was detailed and well acted.” – Athena Fliakos, New York City, New York.
“It was wonderful. This was under- advertised.”- Anna Miklas, New York.
“A must-see!” - Kumu hula Hokulani Holt Padilla, cultural programs director of Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
“To share this with my daughter was priceless.” – Anuenue Mose, hula director, Antioch, California.
“Wow.” – Kenneth LaBau, Aurora, Colorado.
“Very moving production! Thank you.” – Nancy Connolly Blum, Eugene, Oregon.
“Well, it made me cry from a couple to three times.” - Michael Barretto, touring entertainer and collaborator with Taj Mahal.
“Excellent performance... I was enthralled.” – Aletha Kaohi, Waimea Town historian and retired librarian.
“Bravo!” - Sarah Ruppenthal, University of Hawaii - Maui English instructor.
“I loved every moment.” - Stephanie Bauman, Kauai resident.
“Flawlessly executed...Thank you for bringing this story to life.” - Kepa Kruse, singer and song writer.
"Thank you! That was awesome and accurate,” – Bryce Kawenamalama Boeder, a descendant of the sister of Kaluaiko’olau.