Maui Arts & Entertainment

Celebration of Life Sunday for former Maui theatrical education director

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A Celebration of Life is being held for Margherita Pappas, the theatrical education director for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on June 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Photo courtesy of the MACC taken during the recording of a virtual CanDo! Day on the MACC’s Castle Theater Stage.

A former theatrical education director for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center who helped thousands of children on Maui do live performances in schools and attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money, has died. Margherita Therese Pappas passed at her home in Kula on April 23. She was 73.

A celebration to honor Pappas will take place at the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theatre on June 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. An RSVP is requested at

Friends say one of Pappas’ most significant contributions to the arts community was her leadership in the Odyssey Mural project in Lahaina, after the Aug. 8, 2023 wildfire that killed more than 100 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.


“Margherita spearheaded the creation of the mural and had every person who came by add something,” recalled Moira Pirsch, the MACC’s educational director.  “Her commitment to this project went beyond artistic direction; she delved deeply into research on trauma informed arts practice and grappled with the complexities of supporting communities devastated by natural disasters.”

Pirsch said artists participating in Odyssey Mural hope to have it completed in the next few weeks.

Papas was born in Hartford, Connecticut, graduated from the University of Connecticut, and was a singer and actor who performed and toured with repertory companies in New York City, San Francisco, Amherst and elsewhere before settling on Maui 18 years ago.


While living in New York, she owned and operated a fashion apparel company functioning as designer, pattern maker, and production manager.

 On Maui, Pappas worked with children as a teaching artist in drama and creative movement in elementary and middle schools. 

She was also the founder and director of a youth theater company called “Theatre Vitale!” and the writer of a play with song and dance for children called  “Bombadura!”


As the MACC’s theatre education director for six years, she traveled to Maui schools and hosted field trips where more than 2,000 students a year learned to experience their first performance.

At the McCoy Studio Theatre, her most recent lesson directed students to create their own stories of old Hawaiʻi – to have students pretend they were building their own waʻa (canoe) from the forest, hop in, and paddle together to reach new lands. 

“She created high quality curriculum integrating legends of Hawaiʻi with everyday life and shared it not only with students, but also led professional development for Maui’s teachers,” Pirsch said.

She was also the leader of the eight-piece band Astra Vita, with seven women and a male drummer, who performed island-influenced songs. She wrote original songs and sang and played keyboards. Pappas is survived by her husband Miguel Sobel, her brother James Pappas, her son Yohimbe Sampson, and beloved grandson Silo Sampson.


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