Kennedy Theatre's season-opener cancelled

Cleanup of mold infestation will close the theatre's mainstage auditorium for several weeks

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jim Manke, (808) 956-6099
UH Manoa Chancellor's Office
Posted: Aug 10, 2005

The UH Manoa Department of Theatre and Dance has announced cancellation of the coming season‘s first mainstage production at Kennedy Theatre due to the unavailability of the theatre‘s auditorium for rehearsals, set construction and play dates.

A combination of circumstances during summer repairs and renovations led to an infestation of mold in the auditorium, and cleanup will not be completed in time to accommodate actors and stage technicians. Rehearsals for "The Boy Who Tricked the Moon" — a youth theatre production designed for families with youngsters and for school excursion groups — were to have begun in early September with school performances the last week in September and public performances scheduled September 30-October 2.

"We felt it would be better to announce the cancellation well before play dates to let our season ticket holders and school groups know that we won‘t be able to present this first play," said Department Chair Gregg Lizenbery. "Naturally we‘re disappointed and concerned for our obligations to our theatre students, but there doesn‘t seem to be any alternative at this point."

Air conditioning in the main theatre auditorium was turned off for a week in late June at the recommendation of an asbestos removal consultant overseeing removal of a fire-retardant curtain containing asbestos. The recommendation was made to assure that no asbestos fibers entered the air conditioning system and spread to other parts of the theatre complex. All asbestos removal was successfully carried out according to applicable health and safety regulations and the air conditioning system was back in operation in a week.

But it was another two weeks or so before anyone entered the auditorium — not unusual for the summer months when no mainstage productions are scheduled — and at that point the mold was discovered. The infestation is noticeable along railings and armrests, on the theatre‘s upholstered seating, on carpet surfaces and several areas of the auditorium‘s walls.

A consultant has been retained to recommend appropriate cleanup and mitigation measures, and contractor bid solicitations for the work have been issued.
It is hoped that the auditorium can be completely cleaned and mold free by the end of September — in time for rehearsals to begin in early October for Kennedy‘s second scheduled mainstage production, "Battle of Will."

Director Tamara Hunt-Montgomery, who selected the season opener and had picked the student cast at auditions several months ago, considered other alternatives for the production, but the large scale of the sets and stage action made relocating the production impractical. She indicated that she currently plans to reschedule the play for the 2006-2007 season.

Other areas of the theatre complex have been inspected and deemed safe and mold free, and productions in the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre will proceed as scheduled, with the first show, "Vinegar Tom," opening on September 7. Theatre and Dance Department employees continue to work in the building. Some UH classes scheduled to use the mainstage auditorium will be relocated at the beginning of the fall semester when school resumes on August 22.