On May 18 and 19, the Soldiers of Light (SOL) and Halau will be hosting their biennial Dinner Theater show “Under the Big Top.”
During the show, SOL and Halau members will be dressing up in extravagant circus costumes. They’ll also be performing recent hits such as “This is Me” from the new movie The Greatest Showman and humorous numbers like “Popular” from the Broadway musical Wicked.
Senior Cody Sugai explained, “Dinner Theater is a time of whimsical fun and imagination in the form of music. It’s a show where we can entertain people, let them feel like they’re really at the circus, and just put a smile on their faces.”
HBA’s Dinner Theater tradition is 34 years old. At first, SOL students wanted to put on a variety show. However, choir director Todd Yokotake suggested a dinner theater show instead since they were very popular in mainland schools. So, in the spring of 1994, SOL hosted the first ever Dinner Theater with 16 students.
The show has evolved significantly since then. This year’s show features 94 students from SOL, Halau, and the high and middle school choirs. The purpose of Dinner Theater, however, remains the same: to fundraise for the SOL and Halau members’ Big Island trip in the summer.
Many HBA alumni who were in SOL or Halau continue to come back to watch the show every other year. In fact, HBA’s new Development Director and 1994 HBA graduate Billie Lueder describes the first SOL Dinner Theater as “an intimate, grassroots affair.” She added, “It was held in the basement of Wai’alae Baptist Church. Our SOL parents made and served spaghetti plates. It was so much fun and I’m definitely planning on seeing this year’s show. I’m excited to come back, reminisce, and reconnect with other SOL alumni and the school.”
As the show date quickly approaches, SOL and Halau families are hustling to get everything ready. Yokotake said, “A lot of hard work goes into making Dinner Theater possible. It involves a lot of parent and alumni support as well as prayer. I have SOL parents going back to the 1990’s that are still donating time, desserts, baked goods, props… anything to help with the show.”
Senior Bryce Sakata’s mother is one of the many parent volunteers for the event. He said, “My mother has been behind the sewing machine for at least half of the evenings this past month in order to get everything ready. All of the SOL members have been hard at work hammering down the lyrics for all the songs. We also have been adding some fun dance moves too.”
Junior Jessalyn Lim has been in SOL for three years now and is excited to be performing in Dinner Theater again. She said, “Everyone should come! Dinner Theater is a time to honestly just have fun. We love to entertain and reach out to those in our community. Our director, Mr. Yokotake, has worked so hard in preparing for this—even down to the very last decorations. So, I know that this show will be one to remember without a doubt.”
Dinner tickets can be purchased online at HBA’s website. Show only tickets are $8 while dinner tickets are $25. While dinner tickets must be purchased in advance, show only tickets are also available at the door.