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About the People's Theater

     Built in 1930, during the Golden Age of Cinema, the Honokaa People’s Theatre is currently the Big Island theatre with the largest seating capacity at 525 fixed seats.  The theatre also boasts a large dance floor and a spacious stage. 

     The People’s Theatre functions primarily as a cinema, showing a mixture of popular and independent films 5 nights a week.  The theatre is known, island-wide, as a premier concert venue with a history of hosting numerous celebrity performing groups and artists on our stage. 

     The performance lighting is basic but with attractive effect added by lighting or projecting onto the cinema screen backdrop. Performance sound speakers and PA are basic, with most touring groups engaging audio technicians.  The stage has a grand piano and a large dressing room.  Vintage, mid-stage curtains can be used.  

     The acoustics of the theatre is not deadened with curtains for cinema.  Therefore, intelligibility for movies may suffer without a large audience if seated towards the back of the large auditorium.  However, this same characteristic makes for excellent acoustics during live performance, amplifying the crowd response.  

     The lobby is comprised of a concession stand, a ticket booth, and a dining or ‘snacks’ area with tables and chairs.  A marquee, adjacent to the theatre, displays upcoming events. Available upstairs for performers during large events is a ‘green room’ with a kitchen and lounge area.  There are two small side balconies.


Architectural and Preservation Details

    The Honokaa People’s Theatre is architecturally significant at the local level under Criterion C as a good example of a classical revival style theater building constructed in rural Hawaiʻi during the 1920s and 1930s. The vernacular classical revival building is characterized by its symmetric facade with pilasters, cornice and false front parapet. It sits on a concrete foundation, which is raised toward the rear, and has a corrugated metal, front facing, gable roof with overhanging eaves and exposed rafter tails. A corrugated metal monitor with wood slats traverses a portion of the gable roof’s peak above the auditorium. The external auditorium walls are of corrugated metal. 

     The Honokaa People’s Theatre is also significant at the State Level under Criterion A because it has been a center of community life since its opening in 1930. The building’s ability to accommodate both live and moving picture entertainment has meant it has been used extensively as a multipurpose facility. Generations of audiences and performers have here experienced ethnic dances, music festivals, plays, and cultural exhibitions. The theater has provided a venue for political/economic speeches and rallies. It has been the scene of children’s programs. American, Japanese and Filipino films have drawn audiences. The size and facilities, is the largest theater on the island outside of Hilo, attract people to Honokaʻa.

Technical Specs and Rentals

To inquire about theatre rental please contact us at 

The Honoka'a People's Theatre is available for event rental on a sliding scale based upon event type, admission price, and nonprofit status.

All renters must provide proof of a certificate of liability insurance for the event date, make arrangements for security staff, and conduct their own advance and door ticket sales.

Depending upon the event or by request, concessions sales and cleanup crew will be provided by the theatre.

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