Puppeteer Tom Lee returns to Hawaii with new puppet tales
Tom Lee (Mililani 1991) returns to Hawaii next month to direct a puppet tale about an intriguing Kauai cowboy named Kaluaiko‘olau.
Lee, who is principal performer for the bunraku-style puppet in Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, has toured the world with La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and teaches scenic design and puppetry at Sarah Lawrence College.
He also produced the multimedia Ko‘olau: A True Story
of Kaua‘i, praised by critics for its “intimate and inventive retelling of a native Hawaiian paniolo’s resistance to forced exile to Kalaupapa.”
The show is booked for 7:30 p.m. March 5 in Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College in Kaneohe. Tickets cost $25-$15 in advance or $28-$20 at the door. To purchase, call 944-2697. For more information, call UH Manoa Outreach College at 9568246.
Lee, the son of Sam and state Rep. Marilyn Lee (Mililani-Mililani Mauka), first visited NewYork during his senior year at Mililani High, after winning the state Shakespeare competition. A summer program at UH Hilo also led him toward his unique career in theater. “We worked on the story of Momotaro,” he explained, “not only building the bunraku-style puppet, but a scrolling stage background — some of the same techniques I have used in my own productions.”
Ko‘olau also will be performed on Kauai, Maui, at UH Hilo and in Waimea’s Kahilu Theatre. Lee and cast also will share the play with children at Waiau Elementary School March 3 and the WCC drama program March 4.
Mililani’s Tom Lee trains at a cart puppet theater in Hachioji, Japan in 2005. Photo by Hachiojo Kurumo.