Shadows fall and giants tumble onto Kennedy Theatre Mainstage in November

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Kevin C.K. Berg, (808) 956-2598
Director of Publicity, Department of Theatre and Dance
Posted: Oct 24, 2014

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to present “The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)” as the second Mainstage show of its 51st season.  Performances will take place Fridays and Saturdays, November 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, November 22 at 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, November 23, at 2 p.m.

Audiences will also have the opportunity to attend free pre-show events at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays, November 15 and 22, where they can learn the craft of shadow puppetry. The 4:30 p.m. show on Saturday, November 22, will also feature “Throwback Prices,” in which the cost of tickets will be the same as select previous seasons. The show is recommended for audiences age 4 and older.

Director Mark Branner, an assistant professor at UHM, jumped into rehearsals this Fall, straight from the production of “Eddie Wen’ Go” at The Hawai`i Theatre Center this September.  He’s also kept himself busy on O`ahu: Last spring, Branner directed “The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip” on the Kennedy Mainstage, for which he received a Po`okela award. He also worked with the dance/mask theater company Monkey Waterfall to create a new piece, “Twelve Angry Monkeys.”

“The BFG” is Kennedy Theatre’s annual Theatre for Young Audiences production. The play’s book was adapted for the stage by David Wood from the children’s book by Roald Dahl. Dahl is more widely known for his other famous book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” but “The BFG” is also a highly praised novel. At the time of the book’s release, The New York Times declared,"'The BFG’ is a success since it allows children recognition of the habits, dreams and humor that they alone possess.”

When asked why he chose this play, Branner replied, “We were going to offer ‘A Life in the Woods’ this year – a serious and fairly faithful retelling of the ‘Bambi’ novel.  But, as I read 'The BFG' to my own kids while teaching abroad in London last year, they literally laughed themselves off of the sofa at various points and I thought, ‘What could be better than this?’  The laughter of children is not easy to pass up.”

This story will definitely allow, if not encourage, audiences of all ages to howl with laughter. “The BFG” tells the story of the smart and precocious young girl Sophie (Janna Rose Shields, last seen in Kennedy Theatre’s Blithe Spirit), her Father (Joe Abraham, a recent Po'okela recipient for his role in Hawaiʻi Shakespeare Festival's Timon of Athens), and her Mother (played by Rachael Chapman, previously seen on the Mainstage in Gappers).  Abraham and Chapman also play the BFG and Queen, respectively. At her birthday party, Sophie wants to act out the story of “The BFG,” a tale of giants and danger, adventure and theatrical magic. Expect to see giant puppets and imaginative shadows that will captivate the whole family.

The Theatre for Young Audiences or TYA program is coming out in full force to raise this production. From those onstage to those behind the scenes, the work of the MFA students in the TYA track will be seen this Fall. Branner says, “They light the shows (Kelsey Peacock), construct the puppets (Margot Fitzsimmons and Aubrey Watkins) and make the costumes (Kim Shire).  What it shows is that TYA MFA students have a wealth of interests, backgrounds and abilities, which we always try to use in producing all of our shows.”

Tickets for The BFG are available online at, by phone at (808) 944-2697, at participating outlets, and at the Kennedy Theatre box office.  The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with extended hours on performance dates.  Prices are $20 regular; $18 for seniors / military / UH faculty and staff; $15 for students; and $8 for UHM students with a valid Fall 2014 UHM photo ID.  Ticket prices include all service fees. Special throwback ticket prices are in effect for the 4:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, November 22, when ticket prices fall to $15 regular, $10 discount and $5 UHM students with valid ID. For further information, please visit, or call the theater at (808) 956-7655.  For disability access, please call the theater.