Jonathan Lehman, founder of ProArts Playhouse

ProArts came to life as the brainchild of founder Jonathan Lehman, a passionate lifelong champion of local theater. Jonathan hoped to provide the Maui community with access to shows that might not otherwise be produced here and to compensate all those involved with these productions. In doing so, he created Maui’s first truly professional theater.

ProArts began in 2006, with dinner theater in Kahului at the Maui Beach Hotel, followed by a short stint of memorable shows in the now closed Steppingstone Playhouse. By 2010, Jonathan’s patience and dedication had paid off, culminating in the transfer of ProArts to our own space here at the Azeka Center. In these early years, Jonathan solidified the envelope-pushing, artistically driven ethos that defines ProArts. As he famously said when asked about producing “Urinetown” on Maui, “You gotta go.”

Lin McEwan, our first Executive Director

Sadly, in 2016, Jonathan became very ill, and running the theater became more and more difficult. To rise to this challenge, he looked to longtime friend, Richard Vetterli, who had come to play percussion in ProArts’ first musical production and had fallen in love with both Maui and our convivial theater ohana. Richard stepped in and ran the theater while Jonathan fought his disease. Despite his valiant efforts, on September 20, 2016, Jonathan lost his battle and the Maui theater community lost one of its greatest allies and participants.

With the future of ProArts in question, a determined group of community members banded together in an effort to honor Jonathan’s dream and keep theater in South Maui alive. Vetterli continued to manage the theater on a pro bono basis for nearly a year, helping to bring it back from the precipice.

By late 2017, the theater was financially stable and beginning to thrive and a full-time manager was found. Kristi Scott took the reins in July of 2017 and continued Jonathan’s artistic vision for ProArts and its reputation for quality, innovative productions.

In the summer of 2019, ProArts welcomed its first Executive Director, Lin McEwan, under whose guidance, we plan to expand the scope of productions regularly offered to include not only first class theatrical works, but music, visual art, an expanded comedy roster, and other forms of entertainment. “I will do my utmost,” says McEwan, “to honor the legacy of ProArts previous and current leaders, while expanding on the commercial and creative success that they have fostered.” With the continued support of the Maui community at large, ProArts looks forward to continuing to honor the vision and courage of founder Jonathan Lehman and to secure his legacy for years to come.

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Directions

Located at 1280 South Kihei Rd Kihei, HI 96753 in the Azeka Shopping Center

Press & Reviews

Read all the positive feedback for ProArts Playhouse from the Maui community

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