Ohana Arts started with a dream. Co-founders Jenny Taira, Cari Taira, and Laurie Rubin envisioned a place in Hawaii for youth to have high quality training and performing opportunities with highly accomplished and successful artists around the country. They wanted to create a safe space for children and teens to be themselves, and learn how to express themselves more fully. In 2010, Ohana Arts was born. It started as a summer program which met at the Hongwanji Mission School in the afternoons to rehearse for a musical theatre production to be produced at a theater with professional caliber sets and costumes. During the second summer, the program tripled in enrollment, culminating in two productions, a musical showcase and a fully staged musical theater production. In the third summer, Ohana Arts launched a morning program which included several intensive classes in acting, dance, voice, and choir, in addition to continuing its annual main stage productions. In the summer of 2014, Ohana Arts launched its songwriting program in which students had the opportunity to take classes in music theory, arranging, music technology and audio production, and songwriting. Ohana Arts continues to grow, serving students ages 6-18 from over 30 schools around Oahu. Ohana Arts has put up numerous productions, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Oliver,” “Footloose,” “Hairspray,” “Rent,” “In the Heights,"and many others. In the summer of 2017, Ohana Arts is very pleased to announce a partnership with the University of Hawaii Department of Theatre & Dance, who will co-host the Summer Program. Ohana Arts faculty is comprised of choreographers, music directors, acting coaches, and songwriting teachers from Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, and beyond.
In November 2014, the Ohana Arts Youth Theatre Company was launched with the world premiere of a groundbreaking new musical entitled, “Peace On Your Wings,” inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki and her thousand paper cranes. The Ohana Arts youth Theater Company aims to commission and produce new musical theater productions for all-youth casts, adapted from literary works or historical events for national outreach and educational tours for school audiences. In addition, curricula for each show will be developed to be used alongside the productions by teachers from schools who participate in these outreach performances. “Peace On Your Wings” has toured the islands of Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, and will be traveling to San Jose and Seattle in the Fall of 2017.
Jenny, Cari, and Laurie are witnessing their dream being realized. Students who have experienced bullying flourish in Ohana Arts, and those who shared that they had felt stifled prior to their time at Ohana Arts, have blossomed. Faculty witness lifelong friendships being formed between students in spite of any differences of race, age, or socioeconomic background. Furthermore, Ohana Arts students’ growth from year to year is staggering. Their levels of confidence, poise, and performing arts skills shine more brightly from summer to summer.
In 2018, Ohana Arts will open its doors to students from the contiguous States and abroad, sharing the high caliber opportunities, and most importantly, the feeling of Ohana with young artists from around the world.
Ohana Arts is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (Tax ID #27-2668775) with a mission to inspire and engage people through high caliber educational and professional arts programs, and to cultivate an international family (Ohana) in the Pacific by promoting world friendship and peace through the universal language of the arts.
Ohana Arts seeks to provide opportunities for students at varying levels of experience, ability and skill levels in a nurturing yet disciplined environment in which they can develop to the fullest artistic, ethical and intellectual standards as individuals and responsible members of a changing global society.
MEET THE FOUNDERS
Executive & Co-Artistic Director
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Jenny Taira is a composer, pianist,
and clarinetist based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Most recently, she composed, orchestrated, and co-wrote the book for the Ohana Arts original musical, Peace On Your Wings, which recently premiered in New York City. Peace On Your Wings has been the subject of two mini-documentaries by NHK, and has been featured on Broadway World, Huffington Post, and Playbill.com, amongst others.
An active performer, she has performed extensively throughout the United States as a clarinetist and collaborative pianist. Recent career highlights include international recital tours throughout North America and Europe, and performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, the Philharmonic Hall in Brasov Transylvania,
Greenwich Music Festival, and the 92nd Street Y in New York City; and a Lucas Artist Residency at Montalvo Arts Center. As a clarinetist, she received top prizes in the Hennings-Fischer Foundation Young Artist Competition and Kingsville International Competition, and has performed with the Burbank Philharmonic, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, New Britain Symphony, and the Royal Hawaiian Band.
In 2013, she and Laurie Rubin also branded as a new pop duo under the name, PureLand. Jenny is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Yale School
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Cari Taira is Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director and resident stage director for Ohana Arts. She is also Director of Central Theatre Academy of Arts.
She was born and raised in Mililani, Hawaii, where her passion for theatre began at Kipapa Elementary School with inspirational teacher, Mrs. Yvonne Toma. She attended Mililani High School, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama from the University of Portland. Her principle instructors were acting professors Ed Bowen and Mindy Logan, and voice processor Jill Sotero. She has performed in productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sweet Charity, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Crucible, and The Wiz.
After spending 9 years as the director and program coordinator of the Hongwanji Mission School drama program, and 2 years at Pacific Buddhist Academy, she is excited to be back at Mililani High School. Some of her directing credits include Peace On Your Wings, Seussical Jr., Peter Pan Jr., Annie Jr., Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Footloose, Oliver, The Wizard of Oz, Once On this Island Jr., Little Mermaid Jr., and Almost Maine.
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Singer and author Laurie Rubin has concertized internationally at such venues as Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the White House. Recent career highlights include duet concerts with world renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade at DePauw University in Indiana and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, a solo appearance with the LA Chamber Orchestra, and a performance at the International Human Rights Conference in Lucerne Switzerland.
She has performed numerous operatic roles, including the witch/voice in Lisa Bielawa’s episodic TV opera, “Vireo,” Elle in Poulenc’s one-woman opera, ‘La Voix Humane,” Penelope in Monteverdi’s “The Return of Ulysses,” and the title role in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola.
After the publication of her memoir, “Do You Dream in Color?” in 2012, Laurie embarked on a national concert and book tour, weaving stories from her life with relevant musical selections. She served as lyricist and co-bookwriter for the groundbreaking new musical, “Peace On Your Wings” which has toured Hawaii, Los Angeles, and New York. Laurie also joined with composer Jennifer Taira to form the pop duo, PureLand, writing and performing original music. Laurie is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Yale School of Music.