Army Community Theatre Circa 2008 -2010


This was the official website for the Army Community Theatre located at Richardson Theater in Fort Shafter.
Originally used for showing movies and live productions, as well as conducting official training, this 800 seat theater was built in 1948. With support from the Dorothy J. Esser Theatre Foundation it later featured theater performances and revivals of musical theater classics.
Content is from the site's 2008 -2010 archived pages.



FROM HONOLULU: Take H-1 freeway, Ewa bound, to the Ft. Shafter/Aiea exit (exit #19b). Proceed until the Ft Shafter/Ahua St exit (exit #4). At the stop light turn right into the post. After passing the guard shack proceed down the hill and then up the hill to the stop sign and Richardson Theatre is on the right.

FROM ALL POINTS EWA: Take H-1 freeway town bound and proceed to the Honolulu/Moanalua exit . Follow until you reach the Ft. Shafter/King Street exit (next to Big Boy); proceed to the far right lane. At the stop light turn left and take the bridge over the freeway. At the next stop light go straight into the post. After passing the guard shack proceed down the hill and then up the hill to the stop sign and Richardson Theatre is on the right.

Matinee Readers Theatre
Season 2007-2008 Season

65th Season 2007 - 2008
Open to the Public and Open Seating
Season Ticket holders FREE
All Others: $8.00



a drama

by AntonChekov
Translated by Lanford Wilson

PERFORMANCES: September 9, 16, 23, 2007 @ 2 pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith

A subtle and revealing study of life in provincial Russia. What distinguishes this version is the translator’s unique responsiveness to Chekov’s intentions and the care with which these intentions are realized. To prepare himself for his task Mr. Wilson studied Russian and went back to the original text of the play. The result is a rare fidelity and sensitivity to Chekov’s art form. Often described as one of the most Chekovian of modern playwrights, Lanford Wilson, in this eloquent translation, has not only paid tribute to the master but has given new life and meaning to his timeless masterpiece through the generous application of his own remarkable creative powers.





a play

by Henrik Ibsen

PERFORMANCES: November 18, 25 and December 2, 2007 @ 2 pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith

It tells the story of Gregers Werle, a young man who returns to his hometown after an extended exile and is reunited with with his boyhood friend Hjalmar Ekdal. Over the course of the play the many secrets that lie behind the Ekdal’s apparently happy home are revealed to the Gregers, who insist on pursuing the absolute truth, or the “Summons of the Ideal”. Among these truths: Gregers’ father impregnated his servent Gina, then married her off to Hjalmar to legitimize the child. Hjalmar’s father has been disgraced and imprisoned for a crime the elder Werle committed. And while Hjalmar spends his days working on a wholly imaginary “ invention”, his wife is earning the household income. However, in this play the revelation of the truth is not a happy event because it rips up the foundation of the Ekdal family.





a tragic-comedy

by Friedrich Durrenmatt

PERFORMANCES: March 2, 9, 16, 2008 @ 2:00pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith

In an age when so much that’s written for the theatre seems tentative and small, self-concious and undramatically reflective, Durrenmatt’s play is marked with grandeour which makes us so keenly aware of his presence on the stage. A wealthy woman returns to her debt ridden home town and offers a sum greater than they have ever imagined to help out. But there is a condition: she wants the life of a villager who years ago had caused her to be expelled from town in disgrace. Ringing denial of this absurd demand is followed by the gradual corruption of everyone in town. He is murdered and money is passed over his body to the town. The lady leaves with a fantastic entourage and with the coffin of her old lover.




a drama

by Eugene O’Neill

PERFORMANCES: May 11, 18, 25 2008 @ 2:00pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith

William “Billy” Brown, a mediocre architect, and Dion Anthony, a talented but dissolute artist are both in love with Margaret, who chooses Dion because she is in love with the sensual. cynical mask he presents to the world. But when he removes his mask she is repulsed. Frustrated at being unable to realize his artistic promise, Dion sinks deeper into his self-destuctive habits and soon dies. Billy, who has always been jealous of Dion’s talent, steals Dion’s mask and takes on his persona. He marries Margaret, who believes that he is Dion. Billy is eventually accused of the murder of his “old” self and is shot by the police. Margaret continues to worship Dion’s mask. The Great God Brown was significant for its symbolic use of masks and for its experimentation with Expressionistic dialogue and action-devices that since have become commonly accepted both on the stage and in motion pictures. In spite of its confusing structure, the play is rich in symbolism and poetry, and was a forerunner of the avant-garde movement in American theatre.





65th Season 2007-2008 Season

September 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 2007
If you thought you knew the story of  “The Princess and The Pea” you might be in for a walloping surprise! Did you know, for instance, that Princess Winnifred actually swam the moat to reach Prince Dauntless the Drab? Or that, in fact, it wasn’t the pea at all that caused the princess a sleepless night? Carried on a wave of wonderful songs, by turns hilarious and raucous, romantic and melodic, this rollicking spin of royal courtship and comeuppance provides for some side-splitting shenanigans.

Book by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barer and Dean Fuller
Music by Mary Rogers
Director: Richard MacPherson, Choreographer: Grace Bell Humerickhouse



November 15, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and Dec. 1 2007
In the little village of Anatevka, Tevye, a poor dairyman, tries to instill in his five daughters the traditions of his tight-knit Jewish community in the face of
changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. Rich
in historical and ethnic detail, its universal theme of tradition cuts across barriers of race, class, nationality and religion, leaving audiences crying tears of laughter, joy and sadness.

Book by Joseph Stein
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Music by Jerry Bock
Director: CoCo Wiel, Musical Director: Lina Doo, Choreographer: Jennifer Shannon



February 28, 29 March 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 2008
In the Egyptian wing of a major museum, we find a group of contemporary museum goers admiring artifacts of a time long ago. The crowd is gathered around the most mysterious of the objects: an ancient burial chamber. Soon, two visitors, a very beautiful man and woman, begin to move toward the burial chamber as if they know of its secrets or as if they have seen it somewhere before. The man is Radames: the woman Aida. Their eyes meet as the powerful voice of Amneris
explains that “Every Story is a Love Story” leaving the stage empty, with the exception of the two lovers, allowing their tale to unfold.



May 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 2008
This is one of the most captivating musical shows of our time. It tells the story of a rock and roll singer who is about to be inducted into the U.S. Army. The singer, Conrad Birdie, an Elvis Presley type, has a pompadour and thick sideburns: he wears gaudy gold costumes and speaks in a rugged voice. Albert Peterson, his agent, is a very pleasant mild mannered young man. Albert’s faithful secretary Rose Alvarez keeps him and Birdie moving forward in the world. Rosie concocts
one final national publicity plan before Conrad’s induction.

Book by Mike Stewart, Music by Charles Strouse,
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Director: Scott Rogers Choreographer: Katherine Jones


Matinee Readers Theatre
Season 2008-2009 Season

65th Season 2008 - 2009
Open to the Public and Open Seating
Season Ticket holders FREE





OKPERFORMANCES: September 7, 14, 21, 2008 @ 2pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith
DANTE’S INFERNO is widely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem’s imaginative of the Christian afterlife is a culmination of the medieval world-view as it developed in the Western Church. It opens on Good Friday, 1300 and Dante Alighieri has lost his path and wanders fearfully through the forest. Three beasts (a leopard, a lion and a shewolf) block his way. He encounters Virgil, the ghost who has come to guide him through Hell and eventually take him to heaven, where Dante’s beloved Beatrice awaits. Dante travels through the Nine Circles of Hell and emerges from Hell on Easter morning.





by John Milton

PERFORMANCES: November 23, 30 & December 7, 2008 @ 2pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith

PARADISE LOST is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet. The poem concerns the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of Man : the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton’s purpose is “to judstify the ways of God to men” and elucidate the conflict between God’s eternal foresight and free will. The protagonist of this epic is the fallen angel, Satan who appears as an ambitious and proud being who defies his creator, omnipotent God, and wages war on Heaven, only to be defeated and cast down. Milton found Christian theology lacking and tries to incorporate Paganism, classical Greek references and Christianity within the story.





by By James Weldon Johnson

PERFORMANCES: March 1, 8, 15, 2009 @ 2pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith

GOD’S TROMBONES is seven negro sermons in Verse written in 1927 by James Weldon Johnson. Reviewers celebrated the collection for its power and simplicity. He wrote many dialect songs for Broadway in conjunction with his brother John Johnson and musician Bob Cole.. This is possibly Johnson’s most critically acclaimed work. Critics noted the dignity with which the poem treats his subjects. Johnson, himself an agnostic, uses religious themes freely and shuns rhyme, meter and dialect style to evoke black religious fervor using only straightforward speech without dialect.





by Walt Whitman

PERFORMANCES: May 10, 17, 24, 2009 @ 2pm

Directed by Vanita Rae Smith

HEAR AMERICA SINGING with the poem of Walt Whitman. He was just as much of an innovator through his poetry as any of the inventors of his time. His worh was not only his poetry in Leaves of Grass, but also includes. more importantly, his shaping of the national character. Many consider his accomplishment to be the invention of a new kind of person: free, strong. vocal at ease with himself, learned yet unbiased against the illiterate, proud, friendly and honest - in short, American. He serves as an “illustration” of what an American was then, and what an American could be; his poem forms a blueprint for the potential success and failures of Americans in the future.




2009-2010 Season


PERFORMANCES: September 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 2009

“Barnum's the name. P.T. Barnum. And I want to tell you that tonight you are going to see-bar none-every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!’’  P.T. Barnum's name would become synonymous with the great American dream and was always a guarantee of “larger-than-life” entertainment. Yes, sir, Come one, come all and see why BARNUM is welcomed with open arms all over the world. With songs like “There's a Sucker Born Every Minute” and “Come Follow The Band,” the show has the audience in the palm of its hand from the stirring opening number to “The Grand Finale.” Here is the award winning show that traces the career of America's greatest showman from 1835 to 1889 when he joined James A. Bailey to form “the greatest show on earth.”



PERFORMANCES: November 19, 20, 21, 27, 28 and December 4, 5, 11, 12, 2009

What time is it? Time for HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2, the sequel to the ACT Smash hit of the 2008–2009 Season. School is out, and Troy and Gabriel are looking forward to a summer to remember, but Troy also needs to make bank so he can go to college. As it turns out, Sharpay, the self-proclaimed primo girl of East High, has her eye set on primoboy Troy, and gets him a job at the country club her parents own. It looks great for Troy when Gabriella and the rest of the Wildcats are hired also. When Troy gets preferential treatment from the club manager and others, it puts all of his relationships in hot water.



PERFORMANCES: February 25, 26, 27 and March 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 2010

A CHORUS LINE is a stunning musical-verite about a chorus audition for a Broadway musical. It tells of the achingly poignant ambitions of professional Broadway gypsies to land a job in the show, and is a powerful metaphor for all human aspiration. Memorable musical numbers include “I Can Do That, At the Ballet, Dance: Ten; Looks: Three, The Music and the Mirror, What I Did for Love, One (Singular Sensation) and “I Hope I Get It.” It is a brilliantly complex fusion of dance, song and compellingly authentic drama. The show was instantly recognized as a classic.



PERFORMANCES: May 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29, 2010

This revolutionary work has been revived many times and in many different translations, but it has always been a sensation. The original premiere was in Berlin in 1928 and the first Broadway production was in 1933. The setting is London's Soho before and during the coronation of Queen Victoria. The master criminal Macheath prowls the back streets of London introducing us to a motley crew of timeless characters. The cast is largely made up of criminals, beggars and tarts. In his libretto, theatrical giant Bertolt Brecht is interested in exposing corrupt officials of a sad and vicious society and holding a mirror up to our own. It is the legendary Kurt Weill score that is actually what has made this show a classic. Who among us won’t hum along as the show opens with the classic, "Mack the Knife."



Dorothy J. Esser Theatre Foundation

The Dorothy J. Esser Theatre Foundation was established as a non-profit charitable entity, incorporated in the State of Hawaii in June 1990, to provide financial support and administrative efficiency to the community theatres of Hawaii.

Community theatre is a major form of social and cultural activity on Oahu. There are approximately two dozen organizations and over a thousand active participants who generate from 60 to 100 theatrical entertainment productions each year. From one-man dramatic presentations, such as Clarence Darrow, to 1000-participant events, such as the Army Entertainment annual 4th of July concert, pageant and fireworks show. From a old classics, such as Trial By Jury to up-to-the-minute new classics such as Titanic, these thousand plus volunteers contribute to the creative spirit of Hawaii. These individuals participate as amateurs in the true Latin sense of the word: one who does it for love of the activity.

The continuing condition of all volunteer activities, problems of fiscal stability and fund raising pose ongoing hurdles to overcome before the creative goals can be attained. Toward this end we sought help from the local tech community and found a local data science consulting service that volunteered to help us organize and correlate all of the disparate data sources used for both management and fundraising. This means that eventually all programming, employees, volunteers, funding sources will all be available in the cloud for easy and quick access going forward. It is the mission of the Dorothy J. Esser Theatre Foundation to provide centralized fund raising and the economic advantage of centralized volume purchasing to enable the performing arts community to get on with its real function; to entertain, educate and uplift.

The Foundation's goal is to encourage and support the Army Community Theatre.

Dorothy J. Esser. Portrait by Mike Tsukamoto of the Star-Bulletin.
Dorothy J. Esser was an operetta star, a classical vocalist, an actress and general manager of a theatrical supply and stage lighting firm in Hawaii. Born in Kentucky and raised in Arizona, she came to Hawaii as a military wife in 1965 and subsequently founded Windward Theatre Guild with her husband and the Essers started a precursor to Army Community Theatre.

As an actress and singer, she performed with the Boston Symphony and sang at Central Union Church, including a ten-year stint as Amahl's mother in the annual Christmas classic. Active in community theatre, she was the recipient of three Po'okela awards (for West Side Waltz, and On Golden Pond), receiving her first in the year of the Award's inception, and receiving the third one posthumously in June 1990 for Road to Mecca. Notwithstanding her career in the performing side of the theatre, she believed in meeting one's obligations 'in time on time.' 'Theatre is something to be celebrated,' she said, 'but don't go over budget in your quest for theatrical magic.' She died on May 16, 1990.

Her deep interest in community theatre and her concern for sound financial management are the motivating forces behind the Dorothy J. Esser Foundation. It has been established in her memory.

Army Community Theatre represents a major segment of the community theatre network in Hawaii. ACT provides entertainment for over 100,000 citizens of Hawaii and visitors from other states and lands every year with its various programs.

These programs are designed to integrate the military and civilian aspects of the population by bringing them together in the creative spirit of the performing arts. Sadly, this activity, valuable as it is, has been one of the earliest victims of budget cuts. But because of the excellence of both the program and its impact on the community at large, the Board of Directors of the Foundation believe that its continuation is a priority activity.

In 1970, the State of Hawaii authorized and endorsed the formation of the Hawaii State Theatre Council. The purpose of the Council is to provide a body of opinion and advice concerning matters theatrical for consultation with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; and to work cooperatively with artists and organizations for the optimum development of theatre arts in Hawaii.

Dorothy J. Esser in her final role, in 'Road to Mecca' for Manoa Valley Theatre
In 1983, Vanita Rae Smith founded the Po`okela Awards and the Council established them as an annual award. The Award is non-competitive and designed to celebrate excellence in theatre and to call the public's attention to the fact that there is a theatre community in Hawaii that is worthy of public recognition and support. The Award recipients are selected by an independent panel of judges, not a voting competition by their peers or the public. Recipients are chosen for excellence of performance and presentations are made at an annual banquet.

Dorothy J. Esser Foundation
Jayme B. Shirrell, President, is an active participant in the activities supported by the Foundation. She has performed in four productions of the Readers Theatre, has served as stage manager for seven 4th of July Spectaculars, and has worked with both the All-Army Battle of the Bands and the All-Army Soldier Show twice. She is a graduate of Kailua High School, and received her BA in sociology from the University of Hawaii. She is an active member of Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity.

Vanita Rae Smith, Vice President for Army Community Theatre activities. Ms. Smith has been the director of Army Community Theatre. Ms. Smith, a civilian employee of the Army for approximately 33 years, establishing and directing entertainment and theatre programs on behalf of Army from Fort Knox to Oahu.

Jill Esser Frierson, Secretary-Treasurer, is Director of the Senate Minority Research, Hawaii State Senate, and is the owner of Talk Story, Unlimited, a research firm specializing in political research. A resident of Hawaii, she is a former actress, drama teacher and the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop theatre curriculum for Hawaii public schools, grades K-12.

Larry K. Myers, Attorney-at-Law, is the Foundation counsel. Mr. Myers is an attorney in general practice in Honolulu.