See a Show at a Vintage Theater

By Team

The Palace Theatre, Hawaii. Photo: Alan L.

The Palace Theatre in Hilo and the Aloha Theatre and Café in Kainaliu, near Kailua-Kona, are vintage establishments with lives of their own. Both were built in the territorial days before Hawaii became a state, the Palace in 1925 and the Aloha Theatre in 1932. Today, both maintain full entertainment schedules with movies or live performances on stage almost every night.

The Palace Theatre, located at 38 Haili Street in downtown Hilo, was built to house silent movies and live musical acts. In 1928, a sound system was installed and the first “talkies” came to Hilo. The theater changed ownership in 1930 and closed in 1982. Soon after, it was purchased by the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association. It reopened in 1998 after major structural repair.

Today, it features a mixed fare of films, live concerts and theater productions. The theater’s original pipe organ has been reinstalled and can be heard in concert or before a movie presentation.

The Aloha Theatre is easy to spot once you find Kainaliu. There is entertainment every evening in this out-of-the-way location. The mixed fare ranges from live theater to concerts to films. Shows generally start at 7 or 7:30 p.m. and there are regular Sunday matinees.

Originally a silent movie establishment, the theatre features a delightful café. The food is way better than average, and dining on the old lanai invites a leisurely sit in the company of immigrant Gold Dust geckos intent upon tonguing sugar from the railing. These florescent-green creatures with bright red markings pay no attention to diners whose elbows may otherwise share the rail. The result is a mesmerizing side show, one that is hard to break away from.

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