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‘Ïao Theater Pays Tribute Ol’ Blue Eyes

December 4, 2009 - Trisha Smith
Wailuku, Wailuku, that’s my kind of town. (Imagine me singing and swaying to a jazzy beat—not far-fetched, right?)

All right, so I modified the lyrics a bit to Frank Sinatra’s beloved classic “Chicago.” But you get the point.

This killer tune will forever make me smile. Not only because I lived in Chi-town, but I worked on State Street—“that great street”—and I smoked stogies in some of the quaint little piano bars downtown where Ol’ Blue Eyes played in and mingled at into the night.

I immediately started singing that modified version above when I saw an email in my office inbox from the Maui OnStage’s Events Coordinator Michael Pulliam. To my delight, it revealed a Sinatra tribute night on Thursday, Dec. 10, at the Historic ‘Ïao Theater in Old Wailuku Town.

Since I moved here, Michael is one individual I have had the pleasure of working with here on Maui who has multiple layers of appreciation for the arts and community involvement. He’s been a large part of bringing some innovative nights to the ‘Ïao and striving to organize events that appeal to an array of audiences. (He’s a pretty good actor too and quite the comedian as well.) His perseverance has got me up to Central Maui on more than one occasion.

Also, Maui Academy of Performing Arts and Maui OnStage are currently hosting a run at the theater of Annie, which I have heard nothing but raves reviews regarding their rendition of this classic musical.  
Anyways, the town of Wailuku has grown on me. When I first moved here over a year and a half, I snagged a short-term job bartending at local establishment along Lower Main Street. This was a strange introduction to paradise, yet the open arms of the patrons and the “help me, help you” spirit I encountered was pretty awesome, even though I was referred to as a “haole girl” at times.  

But after attending numerous events at the ‘Ïao Theater, enjoying First Friday community celebrations, dining at the fine eateries spread throughout, consistently finding myself browsing Requests Music and all the cool shops that line Market Street, Wailuku has become my kind of town. Plus, the picturesque backdrop of the valley doesn’t hurt. 

The people of Maui and Old Wailuku Town have worked vigorously to keep the Historic ‘Ïao Theater from demolishment a few times, and after many structural and managerial improvements, it has become a shining star of our community.

The theater opened its doors way back in 1928 and held cultural events, beauty pageants, hula shows, meetings, church gatherings and more. It showcased such legends as Sinatra and Bob Hope during the USO shows for military personnel stationed on Maui during WWII. Apparently, Sinatra also returned for the premiere of From Here to Eternity in 1953, and once again in 1961 to film The Devil at 4 O’Clock with Spencer Tracy. Sinatra’s connections to the building actually contributed to the theater’s national historic landmark status.

Wrapping up its yearlong 80th birthday celebration, the ‘Ïao Theater is holding a Frank Sinatra 94th Birthday Bash on Thursday, Dec. 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. It’s a free event that includes music, birthday cake, themed door prizes for best dressed and trivia. Partygoers need to 21 and over, please. 

Come out and groove in honor this legendary star, with performances by some of Maui’s finest performers such as Fulton Tashombe, Benoit Jazz Works, Melissa M. from Mojomana, Cheryl Rae, Paul Janes Brown, Steven Dascoulias, Tom Althouse, Lynnea Barry, Casey Murphy, Deidre Tegarden, and Cassandra Wormser. Genie Calagna and Michael play hosts, plus expect a few special surprise guests.

I’m looking forward to the sweet, sultry sounds of Mojomana’s Melissa M. doing her rendition of “Witchcraft.”  (Mojomana has some exciting things going on right now as well, so check them out at
Maui OnStage would like you to grab your coat and get your hat, grab your guy or doll and come celebrate the swingin’ sound of Sinatra at the ‘Ïao Theater, located at 68 North Market Street in Wailuku. Call 242-6969 for more information.


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