From an audience member’s perspective, ‘Ulalena’s original story line, dancing, and music, might look like the key to its success, however after spending some time with the people who make ‘Ulalena happen, it is apparent that the true driver of success is simply the genuine quality of people that make up the ‘Ulalena team. Talent, culture, and aloha: three words that embody the ‘Ulalena cast and crew. Or I should say, ohana, because they act much more like a family than just a group of coworkers.
Obviously, every single individual involved with the show is extremely talented. From singing and dancing abilities, to audiovisual technician skills, everyone takes pride in what they do to make the show the best it can possibly be – most people in the audience probably don’t even realize Anthony Natividad is actually playing the flute with his nose! Not to mention, the former Miss Hawaii USA, prospective Miss Hawaii USA, and three former Miss Maui’s in the cast!
While talent can be found anywhere in the world, ‘Ulalena’s ohana adds the element of culture. They don’t just chant Hawaiian words and dance Hawaiian hula; they take and teach Hawaiian language classes, and learn the history behind the hula they dance. It’s not just a show, it’s their opportunity to share the rich and vibrant Hawaiian culture with visitors from around the globe. Even if you can’t understand the lyrics being sung, you can still understand the passion and emotion they’re being sung with.
Being the newest addition to the team, this intense cultural knowledge, talent, and bond among everyone can be somewhat intimidating. However, staying true to the Hawaiian ideals, every single person has made me feel beyond welcome. This “spirit of aloha” exuded from the entire ‘Ulalena ohana is unavoidable and contagious. In just a few short weeks, they have taught me more about Maui and Hawaiian culture than I’ve learned in my entire lifetime. Not only have I gained knowledge from the classes and show itself, but also from the way they treat each other and others. In a world so concerned with the botom line and material things, it’s refreshing to be surrounded with such genuine, good-natured people.
Talented yet humble. Full of culture and ready to share. These are the people that make ‘Ulalena so special, and why I’m so excited to share their stories with you! Check back soon for the first, of many, feature pieces on the cast and crew, starting with former Miss Maui, Maya Iida.