Staff

CAROLYN TAIRA (PROGRAM DIRECTOR) Cari Taira is the Director of Central Theatre Academy of Arts.  She is also a Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director and resident stage director for Ohana Arts.  She was born and raised in Mililani, Hawaii, where her passion for theatre began at Kipapa Elementary School with inspirational teacher, Mrs. Yvonne Toma. She attended Mililani High School, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama from the University of Portland. Her principle instructors were acting professors Ed Bowen and Mindy Logan, and voice processor Jill Sotero. She has performed in productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sweet Charity, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Crucible, and The Wiz.  After spending 9 years as the director and program coordinator of the Hongwanji Mission School drama program, and 2 years at Pacific Buddhist Academy, she is excited to be back at Mililani High School.  Some of her directing credits include Peace On Your Wings, Seussical Jr., Peter Pan Jr., Annie Jr., Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Footloose, Oliver, The Wizard of Oz, Once On this Island Jr., and Little Mermaid Jr.


KRISTI LEE HIGUCHI-DELOS SANTOS (MUSICAL DIRECTOR)  has been active with CTAA as music director since 2011 (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Bye Bye Birdie, The Sound of Music – orchestra director, and Suessical).  She has a Bachelors in Secondary Music Education and a Masters in Arts (Music Education) from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.  After serving as the Music Teacher/Choir Director for Mililani Mauka Elementary for the last 21 years,  Ms. Higuchi-Delos Santos is currently the Mililani Complex Music Coordinator in addition to serving as the CTAA’s Music Director.  She also is a licensed Kindermusik Educator, piano accompanist, and has taught band (concert, jazz, marching and ensembles), chorus, Polynesian music, Piano and various other music ensembles in her career.

SHANNON NAKATA (CHOREOGRAPHER) began dancing in 1989 at DanceWorks, under the direction of Simeon Den and Marie Takazawa.  Shannon has performed with DanceWorks, Big City Productions, SLAM Dance Company, and Dance Central.  She has also been a cast/crew member in Lisa Matsumoto’s  The Princess and the Iso Peanut, the Once Upon One Time trilogy, and The Christmas Gift of Aloha. She graduated from the University of Hawai’i with a degree in elementary education, and currently works at Kipapa Elementary as the performing arts assistant. She also teaches and choreographs for Leeward YMCA’s Dance Central, The Paliku Academy of Performing Arts, and The Movement Center.

GENEVA PABLICO (TECHNICAL THEATRE INSTRUCTOR) is delighted to be back assisting the CTAA Drama program. A CTAA alumni,  She has been an instructor since 2007 with a brief hiatus in the 2014-15 season. This will be her eighth year instructing for the program. She studied theatre at Leeward Community College and is currently achieving her teaching degree at University of Hawaii. Geneva has been involved in the construction and production of various community theatre shows including Tony and Tina’s Wedding (MVT), Little Shop of Horrors (MVT), It’s A Wonderful Life (MVT), The Importance of Being Earnest (HPU), and Alice In Wonderland (DITR).


THOMAS TOCHIKI (LIGHT DESIGN) is thrilled to be assisting Julia and working for CTAA again. He has been involved with the Light Design aspect of this program for the last four years. He holds a BA in Theatre from UH Mānoa. He received a Po`okela for Light Design at TAG for Miso, Merry Christmas Roberta, and A Doll’s House. Thomas also was the Assistant Director for August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and he appeared as the Page in Antigone and the Photographer in World Buffet at TAG. He has designed lights for Kipuka Theatre’s The Yellow Boat at ARTS at The Mark’s Garage, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at UHM Late Night, Koi: Like the Fish and Shoyu On Rice at KKT, and almost all the shows at TAG for the last eight years.

EMILY MAKANANI (COSTUME DESIGN) is a recent graduate of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She is also an alumna of Central Theatre Arts Academy (2007-2011). While in CTAA, she received the Fine Arts Student of the Year award for Theatre (2011). Emily is excited to be back to teach her third year of costume creation to the new students of CTAA, and looks forward to the many shows to come. 3:12

CASSIE MCCALL (TECHNICAL ASSISTANT)