Legend of Ko‘olau

A Play Based On A Historic Hawaiian Cowboy

“The Legend of Ko’olau,” a touring play, is based on a true historic story.

In 1893, the cowboy Ko’olau fought a rebel militia that had overthrown the Hawaiian monarchy and now wanted to enforce leprosy laws that would have forced him and his son to the leper settlement at Kalaupapa called “the Living Grave.” With more than 50 soldiers and deputies and a Krupp cannon, the militia was confident it could capture Ko’olau who had killed a deputy sheriff. But they hadn’t taken into account Ko’olau’s expertise as a marksman, nor the resolve of his wife Pi’ilani to keep the family together, nor the vast wilderness of Kalalau Valley on Kauai. The play “Legend of Ko’olau” is about love and survival – love and devotion to family and the fight for their survival, despite the decimation of their Polynesian race.


May 16 (Friday), 7:30 p.m., 2014: Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu, Oahu Premiere at HawaiiTheatre.com

May 18 (Sunday), 2:30 p.m., 2014: Waimea Historic Theatre, Kauai at WaimeaTheatre.com

SOLD-OUT, STANDING OVATION: Nov. 9, 2013, 7:30 p.m.: McCoy Theatre, Maui Arts & Cultural Center

COMMUNITY BENEFIT, STANDING OVATION: Nov. 11, (Tues.), 2013, 6 p.m., Molokai.

STANDING OVATIONS March 1-2, 2014: Waimea Historic Theatre, Kauai


Sept. 6 (Saturday), 2014: Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival in Seattle, Washington.

  The one-man play is being made possible, in part, by a grant from the National Performance Network and Visual Artist Network through support from the Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust Foundation. The lead commissioner is the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and co-commissioner, Waimea Historic Theatre, with major support from Takamiya Market. Special mahalo to Mike Upton and Kala Ukulele for its donation of 4 baritone ukuleles to promote the play.

What the audience has been saying:


Comments from the audiences at a reading and subsequent performances of the play at Waimea Historic Theatre on Kauai, near Kekaha, where Ko`olau was raised:

“Powerful story! Well done.”Barbara Walstrom, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


“Wow.”  – Kenneth LaBau, Aurora, Colorado.


"A must-see!"Hokulani Holt-Padilla, cultural programs director, Maui Arts & Cultural Center.


“So beautifully written and very passionately performed.” – Becky Burns, Anahola, Kauai.


“Very moving production! Thank you for writing, producing, and presenting this work.”Nancy Connolly Blum, Eugene, Oregon.


“Thank you for this educational piece of history and culture that all school children must… see.”Joan and Larry Heller, Kauai.


Superb production.”Carl Wend, White Plains, New York.


“Excellent performance… I was enthralled.”Aletha Kaohi, Waimea Town historian and retired librarian.


"Flawlessly executed…Thank you for bringing this story to life." Kepa Kruse, Hawaiian musician and song writer.


"Awesome. This should be a film." John Wehrheim, film maker of “Taylor Camp.”


“This was under-advertised…It was wonderful.” Anna Miklas, White Plains, New York.


“Excellent.”Chantal Duarte, Kauai.


“To share this with my daughter was priceless.”Anuenue Mose, hula director, Antioch, California.


“It was very moving… It was a wonderful drama and then the ending was amazing.” Liz Kauai, Kauai.


Well, it made me cry couple to three times.”Michael Barretto, touring band member with Taj Mahal, Kapaa, Kauai.


“I loved it. I loved that it was a Kauai story… I loved that it was local actors.” Puni Patrick, marketing executive, Waimea, Kauai.


“I think the play was very successful in terms of conveying the feeling… That’s what gets people if you are a visitor or resident.” Stanley Lum, former deputy administrator of the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.







Actor Moronai Kanekoa


Mr. Kanekoa, who has acted in the Kauai premiere of the Legend of Ko’olau, has had numerous roles on stage and in the award-winning film The Haumana. He’s a Masters Of Fine Arts graduate in drama from the University of Southern California. He’s a former Maui resident who now lives in Los Angeles.

Actor Emeritus Ed Ka’ahea


Mr. Ka’ahea, who has done staged readings of the Legend Of Ko’olau and helped to fundraise for the training of actors in the role of Ko’olau, has performed in numerous dramatic roles, including plays at Kennedy Theatre in Honolulu and “Shakespeare In The Park” in New York City. He’s a founder of the Manoa Valley Theatre and the former comedy group Booga Booga. Ka’ahea also has a Masters in Education, Gonzaga University.

Actor Ocean Kaowili


Mr. Kaowili has acted as King Kalakaua in the film “Princess Ka’iulani” and is a member of the legendary Hawaiian music group “Sons of Hawaii” with Eddie Kamae.

Original Director Keo Woolford


Mr. Woolford was the director of the original production of Legend of Ko’olau at the McCoy Theatre at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Nov. 9, 2013. He has directed “Three Year Swim Club,” David Whang Theatre in Los Angeles Spring 2012, reprised East-West Players Theatre Fall 2012. Actor/writer in one-man play “I-Land” at the Hawaii Theatre. Actor in “The King And I” at the London Palladium, replacing actor Jason Scott Lee. He is the director of the award-winning feature film, “The Haumana” that has premiered in Los Angeles in 2013. The original production of Legend of Ko’olau on Maui was directed by Mr. Woolford.

Writer Gary T. Kubota


Mr. Kubota was a crew member aboard the double-hulled sailing canoe Hokule’a through Micronesia in 2007 and is the author of “To Honor Mau: Voyage of the Hokule’a through Micronesia,” written in English, Hawaiian and Satawalese and selected to be in the Hawaiian language library Ulukau.org. He has produced two “Hawaii Specials” on prime time on Hawaii Public Television and has received several recognitions nationally from groups, including the National Press Club and NNA. He has worked at several daily newspapers as a writer and continues to work as a journalist in Honolulu, while keeping his residence on Maui. For five years, he worked as the editor and business manager of the weekly Lahaina News on Maui. Besides being a playwright, he’s a poet and songwriter.

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   We would like to thank individuals and companies for making contributions toward a successful crowd-funding campaign to help in training actors. A special thanks goes out to the National Performance Network for its generous grant and to its major funding supporters - the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and our business supporters Takamiya Market/Dani’s Catering and Kala Ukulele http://npnweb.org/whatwedo/programs/creation-fund/awards/#fy13-CrF 

   We are also grateful for support from our lead commissioner Maui Arts & Cultural Center and co-commissioner Waimea Historic Theatre for sponsoring the grant application and helping us in this endeavor.

   “Legend Of Ko’olau” is a Hawaii-based company. For tour scheduling, queries may be sent to “Legend Of Ko’olau,” P.O. Box 2945, Wailuku, HI 96793 or sending an email query to LegendOfKoolau@gmail.com