Director, Kelly Williams said, “A lot of the events came from
real journals in the Mission Houses. The playwright,[Victoria
Nalani Kneubuhl] gave me a lot of feedback [on the historical
“I thought it was very moving, because the words were powerful,
and there was no need for props because when they spoke, you
felt it,” said audience member and Kapiolani Community College
student Laymya Moualem. “In Lucy Thurston’s monologue about
her breast surgery, I actually had to look away as she described
Williams' novel approach to the music highlighted the actresses’
emotions. Working with choreographer Nara M. M. Springer Cardenas,
Williams used traditional Hawaiian instruments to parallel the
women’s emotions, from fear to anticipation to desperation.
Her rhythms added a beat to the play, giving it life. Musician
Summer Duarte was the glue that bound the words to the players.
The acting was impressive; the cast professional and dedicated.
Anne Marie MacPherson, who played missionary wife Sybil Bingham,
delivered powerful monologues with the conviction and heart
of a real struggling missionary. Each woman had equally powerful
roles and their own moments to stand out.
The actresses turned what could have been a dry topic into
a series of anticipatory events leaving the audience to wonder,
what will happen next?
Overall, The Conversion of Ka‘ahumanu was a thought- provoking
piece of history made real again by its excellent script, cast,
and direction. It is definitely a play worth seeing.