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).
JENNIFER FUKINO (COSTUME INSTRUCTOR) Jennifer was born in Honolulu and raised on Kaua’i. After graduating high school, she played college volleyball for University’s in California and Louisiana. She decided to continue her volleyball career and ended up playing professionally in Denmark. She lived abroad for a few years before ending up at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Apparel Product Design and Merchandising with an emphasis in design in 2010. This is Jennifer’s first year as the costume instructor.
CHELSEA YAMASHIRO (LIGHTING INSTRUCTOR) Chelsea is an alumnus of Leeward Community College and has studies, volunteered, and worked in the Leeward Theatre on and off for more than 11 years. She studied lighting design under mentors Don Ranney and Sarah Whitehead, and has designed for several shows at Leeward CC, including Twelfth Night, Typeepee, Tyke Dreams of Plumeria Stars, Richard III, and most recently, The Merchant of Venice. She has designed lighting at Pas De Deux Hawaii, a performing arts school, for the past three years, on productions that include Hairspray Jr. and The Little Mermaid Jr. She has also been lucky enough to design for dance and theatre groups like Monkey Waterfall and Playbuilders of Hawaii, and she has worked as a light operator at Kumu Kahua Theatre and Marks Garage. She is absolutely thrilled to be working with Central Theatre Arts Academy.
MARSHALL CRESSY (ASSISTANT SET INSTRUCTOR) Marshall has been a part of The Leeward Theater for four years and has assisted in the production of several shows. He has also been seen acting in A Dark and Stormy Knight, Merry Men, Tartuffe, Shoot Get Treasure Repeat, and recently Freakshow. Marshall has also done tech stagework for many shows at Leeward as well. He has been studying under Don Ranney and Sarah Whitehead and has been the Master Electrician of several Leeward’s shows including the recent Freakshow and Merchant of Venice.