In 1915, The Footlights was formed as a new theatrical group in Honolulu. The Amazons was its first production and starred many prominent Honolulu citizens inlcuding Will Lewers, Mrs. Walter F. Dillingham, Helen Alexander, Margaret Center and Gerrit Wilder. Held at Honolulu Opera House, where the historic Merchant Street Post Office now stands, these collective performances would serve as the spirited beginning of America’s third-oldest, continuously operating theatre.
In 1934, the wildly popular Footlights evolved into Honolulu Community Theatre. Its original mission still stands: “Community service through the art of theatre, involving Hawaii’s people as audience members, stage crew and performers.”
During World War II, thousands of troops were entertained at more than 300 performances throughout the Pacific (a tradition that continued with the Pacific tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’ during the 1990 season).
Honolulu Community Theatre found a home to call its own in 1952. It took up permanent residence in Honolulu’s Gold Coast District of Diamond Head. Back then, Fort Ruger was a critical army base that included a military residential community and an aging movie house that was built in the 1930s. Although never designed for stage productions, the war-era movie house was retrofitted to the extent it could. A scene shop and costume center were added. Installation of lighting and sound systems were made in the 1980s.