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Ka'iulani - The Island Rose

A Play For the Stage Based on the Life of Princess Ka'iulani

Photos on this page are from a 2008 Staged Reading of the script. Roles have not yet been cast.

When we peel away the myth, we see Ka'iulani as a young woman forced to face dramatic changes in her short life because of repeated
disappointments and thwarted expectations. Through her letters and the observations of others, Ka'iulani becomes a multifaceted woman
— a flesh-and-blood person, not a wispy, gauze-like replication. - Marilyn Stassen-McLaughlin  - The Hawaiian Journal of History


Gertrude Gardinier and Trinette U'ilani Furtado as Princess Ka'iulaniBoth an original play and screenplay, written and researched since 2002 by Jennifer Fahrni and Carol Harvie-Yamaguchi, celebrates the life of Princess Ka‘iulani, a brave young girl of two races, who overcame great sorrow to become Hawaii's 'Hope of the Nation.' This remarkable child who was educated in Hawai'i and the British Isles, was heir to the Hawaiian throne at the time of annexation.

Ka‘iulani's story of determination and courage is a story for our time. Through her struggle to embrace her dual heritage, she found the inner strength to speak for her nation in its darkest hour. The play challenges us to examine the prejudices and misunderstandings that tear us apart. And her story compels us to embrace diversity as the foundation upon which we build our greatness.

Actors Bill Schnitzer (from left), Rick Case and Paul Janes-Brown in the foreground play John Dominis, Archie Cleghorn and Sanford Dole discussing their plans at the time of the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani.The play is a captivating tale of courage, hope and perseverance, which explores the life of Victoria Kawekiu Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Ka‘iulani Cleghorn, Crown Princess of Hawaii. Born to a Hawaiian mother and Scottish father, this daughter of a double race was the last heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii."

David Johnston, Artistic Director of MAPA is directing this professional show, and with the assistance of Jennifer Fahrni, is looking for the finest Hawaiian talent to cast in the roles of the great musical Kalakaua family. These include King David Kalakaua, Queen Liliuokalani, Princess Likelike, Princes Koa, Kuhio & Edward, and Ka‘iulani's godmother, Princess Ruth.


Camille Romero as Ka'iulani's mother, Princess LikelikeThe script is a period piece (years 1) which covers a sensitive and controversial period in Hawaiian history. As well as several members of the Kalakaua Royal Family, Robert Louis Stevenson, Annie Cleghorn, and other well-known politicians and ladies of the day are characterized.

It is not widely known that Princess Ka‘iulani was a child of dual heritage, her mother being the willful and vivacious Hawaiian Princess, Miriam Likelike who also held the position of Royal Governor of Hawaii, and her father, the Scottish born merchant, Archibald Scott Cleghorn. This remarkable child of two races was educated in Hawai'i and the British Isles, and was heir to the Hawaiian throne at the time of annexation.

At the young age of seventeen, the young princess fought courageously for her country in its hour of need. Kaiulani was also instrumental in changing the world's prejudiced view of the Hawaiian people.

Vinnie Linares as Ka'iulani's guardian, Theophilus DaviesPlay Synopsis:
Rather than a musical, this is a dramatic production with music. We open in the 1800's, 'a pleasant time, a gracious time, reminiscent of bygone days...a place where one could find peace, beauty and serenity.' It is a Hawaii that has seen the resurgence of the Hawaiian culture, with the influence of "Hawaii for the Hawaiians", a group led by a young David Kalakaua. The opening musical piece of the show: “Hawaii for the Hawaiians” then becomes the union of two cultures with the wedding of Scotsman, Archibald Cleghorn and Kalakaua's sister Likelike. This is aided with the use of the highland pipes, hula kahiko, drums and Hawaiian chant.

At the time of Ka'iulani's birth, her uncle is King, but childless. The Hawaiian nation celebrates Ka'iulani's royal birth as highest born alii of her generation. Despite personal setbacks, lives her life with love, music, and a sense of humor. However, in turbulent political times, as the last heir to the Hawaiian throne, Princess Kaiulani is sent to England to receive an education suitable for a Queen. Just at the time she comes into her own, Kaiulani is faced with the challenge of her life.

"The Kumu/choreographers required for this production, are crucial, as several moments of truth in this production are conveyed through hula. These performances will be the most memorable highlights of the play", says Fahrni. There are several of pieces in the production and a kumu is required for each piece - also both male and female dancers.

To be considered for casting: email and submit resume and headshot if available. If you have no headshot and resume, please email your interest to Jennifer at . Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian actors are required. Anyone wanting to take part in or sponsor the stage production is encouraged to contact David Johnston, Executive and Artistic Director of the Maui Academy of Performing Arts in Hawaii at 808-, or email Jennifer at .

All photos on this page are from a Public Performance Reading of the script in April of 2008.
Top right : Jemma Della Croce and Trinette U'ilani Furtado reading Miss Gardinier and Ka‘iulani in a scene. - photo by Peter Della Croce.
Top left: Actors Bill Schnitzer (from left), Rick Case and Paul Janes-Brown in the foreground play John Dominis, Archie Cleghorn and Sanford Dole discussing their plans at the time of the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani. This photo was used in a Maui News article about the making of a play. photo by Peter Della Croce.
Above Right: Camille Romero (seated) as Ka'iulani's mother, Princess Likelike.
Above left: Vinnie Linares reading Theophilus Davies.


Ka Wai Ola - Office of Hawaiian Affairs Newspaper
Princess Ka'iulani, is the subject of a play
- By Lisa Asato - December 2008
Maui writer and actress Jennifer Fahrni has devoted six years of her life to learning the facts about Princess Ka'iulani for a new play she's co-writing, and sometimes it seems like she's just getting started... putting historical accuracy before ego, Fahrni says she welcomes input from anyone who can shed light on Ka'iulani, even if they may have reservations about Fahrni's malihini roots. “There's no need to Hollywood-ize this story,” adds Fahrni, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia. “The truth is very compelling... "
Fahrni and others members of The Ka'iulani Project, like Kathy Collins and Wilmont Kahaialii have performed at readings of the play, which when completed, will feature music, hula and Hawaiian language ... putting historical accuracy before ego, Fahrni says she welcomes input from anyone who can shed light on Ka'iulani, even if they may have reservations about Fahrni's malihini roots. “Give the criticism now before it hits the stage. I've been an actor all my life, and as an actor you learn how to take criticism well,” she says with a laugh...

Topix logoHawaiian Topix Website discussingKaiulanii - The Island Rose
"... little known part of Hawaiian history which the playwright has painstakingly researched ... rendering these important events readily understandable to a mass audience. This play needs to be seen by everyone who lives in or visits Hawaii. It will also be appreciated by those from outside Hawaii as an exotic piece of American history..." Make a comment about the play.

Maui Time Newspaper - Maui's Pick of the Week - True Tragedy - by Starr Begley
"... It's more than a little ironic that the first stages of Ka`iulani, the Island Rose, are coinciding with the filming of a motion picture on the same topic that's currently drawing substantial protests. But unlike its big budget and over dramatized look-alike, this organic production—written and extensively researched by Maui residents C. Harvie-Yamaguchi and J.J. Fahrni— focuses on the historical details and people surrounding the short life of Princess Victoria Ka`iulani Cleghorn, heir to the Hawaiian throne at the time of annexation. Now that was a wahine with seriously large kahones! ..."

Cast of Ka'iulani the island roseMaui Weekly Newspaper - Island Rose Reading: Performance Reading - Saturday, April 12th , 2008
The Performance Reading of KA'IULANI, THE ISLAND ROSE took place at the The Steppingstone Playhouse, Kahului (second floor of the Queen Kaahumanu Center), produced and narrated by Jennifer Fahrni, and directed by David Johnston, the executive and artistic director of the Maui Academy of Performing arts (MAPA). The first event in Maui that celebrated the Hawaiian and Scottish cultures on one stage was the Performance Reading of "Ka'iulani - The Island Rose" at the Steppingstone Theater Playhouse in Kahului. The event, which was the culmination of several years' work and a great many people's efforts, previewed the upcoming large-scale production to be premiered on Maui before traveling throughout the state. Used throughout our reading were Scottish bagpipes as well as Hawaiian chants and hula to help depict the moving life story of Princess Victoria Ka'iulani. “Ka'iulani - The Island Rose” was presented publicly last April to a standing ovation and more than favorable input from the press and community. All members of the community were invited to attend this free event, and encouraged to give feedback at this developmental stage. With a cast of 17, the piece was well received with a standing ovation from the audience.

photo: cast of the first Performance Reading, April 08. Additional photos: see

View additional articles on the play, Ka'iulani - The Island Rose and The Ka'iulani Project.

Princess Kaiulani Project



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