Maui Arts & Entertainment

ʻAinakea, a play about Maui in the 1950s to debut at ʻĪao Theater

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ʻAinakea, a play about Maui in the 1950s, debuts at the Historic ʻĪao Theater on July 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Kīhei-based playwright, James Nevius brings his newest work to the stage for one night only.

His last full-length play, Murder in the Nth Degree, won the ProArts Playhouse inaugural playwriting competition and was named Best Play of 2022 by Broadway World Hawaiʻi.


ʻAinakea is set on Maui’s west side in 1953. The play tells the fictional story of the wealthy Goodale family and their failing sugar plantation, ‘Ainakea, which was named for a type of prized white sugarcane.

The play is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic drama The Cherry Orchard, widely considered one of the great plays of the early 20th century. Nevius has updated the drama to the 1950s. With statehood looming and the traditional, plantation-based sugar business coming to an end, this was a period of great uncertainty and change in the Hawaiian islands.

ʻAinakea’s owner, Amanda Goodale—played by Lin McEwan—is a descendant of missionaries and is unwilling to face the idea that her family may lose its land. The action of the play begins as Lopaka (Shane Borge), a young local businessman who has grown up in the nearby plantation camp, comes to visit Amanda to propose a scheme for saving the property. Acting almost as a Greek chorus is Kawika (Francis Tau’a), a servant who has worked for the Goodale family for most of his life, including during the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.


The play also stars a host of Maui’s finest actors: Patty Lee, Dan Church, Carlos Dantes, Kristi Scott, Lily Werner, Paul Jackel, Jefferson L. Davis, Kiegan Otterson, and Hoku Pavao.

The play is presented as part of Maui Onstage’s monthly ONO (“one night only”) series, which is curated by Kristi Scott.

In addition to ‘Ainakea and Murder in the Nth Degree, James Nevius is the author of Saint Mary Immaculate Virtual High School Reunion, which was presented online via Zoom during the height of the pandemic, and the one-act comedy Will Power, which debuted at Maui Onstage in October 2022.


Tickets to the show are free but must be reserved in advance at


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