Meet The Creative Team

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JENNY TAIRA

Composer/Co-Bookwriter/Music Director

Jenny Taira is a composer, songwriter and producer, and has written numerous pieces for choir, orchestra, solo, and chamber groups. She and singer Laurie Rubin recently branded as a pop duo, PureLand,  and is songwriter, arranger, and producer on their album, “Summer Night in Winter.”

An active performer, she has performed extensively throughout the United States as both a clarinetist and collaborative pianist for mezzo-soprano, Laurie Rubin. Recent career highlights include national recital tours and performances at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Philharmonic Hall in Brasov Transylvania,  Stanford University, Greenwich Music Festival, and the 92nd Street Y in New York City; a Lucas Artist Residency at Montalvo Arts Center; and a performance on Hallmark Channel’s “Marie”.  She is co- founder of Musique à la Mode Chamber Music Ensemble and the Music at the Bowery Series in New York City’s East Village.  As a clarinetist, she received top prizes in the Hennings-Fischer Foundation Young Artist Competition and Kingsville International Competition, as well as a solo performance with the Burbank Philharmonic. She has performed with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, New Britain Symphony,  the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Hawaiian Band.  She has been the recipient of many awards and scholarships, including a full fellowship to study at the Kent/Blossom Music Festival.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Jennifer Taira has always been an advocate for cultivating accessible, high caliber training programs for local performing artists. In 2010, Jennifer Taira co-founded Ohana Arts, a non-profit performing arts organization with a mission to promote peace and world friendship through the universal language of the arts with director Carolyn Chung, and mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin.  Jennifer currently serves as Executive and Co-Artistic Director of Ohana Arts, as well as the resident music director and conductor of Ohana Arts productions.   Jennifer is a graduate of the Yale School of Music and Northwestern University.

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LAURIE RUBIN

Lyricist & Co-Bookwriter

Singer, Lyricist, and author Laurie Rubin has concertized internationally at such venues as Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the White House.  Recent career highlights include duet concerts with world renowned mezzo-soprano  Frederica Von Stade at DePauw University in Indiana and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, a solo appearance with the LA Chamber Orchestra, and a performance at the International Human Rights Conference in Lucerne, Switzerland.  She has performed numerous operatic roles, including the witch/voice in Lisa Bielawa’s episodic TV opera, “Vireo,”  Elle in Poulenc’s one-woman opera, ‘La Voix Humane,” Penelope in Monteverdi’s “The Return of Ulysses,” and the title role in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola."  

 

After the publication of her memoir, “Do You Dream in Color?” in 2012, Laurie embarked on a national concert and book tour, weaving stories from her life with relevant musical selections.  She was also featured as a TEDMed speaker in 2015.  A co-founder and co-artistic director of Musique a la Mode Chamber Music Ensemble, which has a concert series in Manhattan’s East Village, Ms. Rubin is also one of the founding members of the baroque ensemble Callisto Ascending which has performed concerts at Lincoln Center. In addition, she is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Ohana Arts, a performing arts festival and school in Honolulu, Hawaii with a mission to promote peace and world friendship through the universal language of the arts. Laurie also joined with composer Jennifer Taira to form the pop duo, PureLand, writing and performing original music.  Laurie is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Yale School of Music. 

CAROLYN CHUNG

Director

Cari Taira is Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director and resident stage director for Ohana Arts.  She is also Director of Central Theatre Academy of 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., Little Mermaid Jr., and Almost Maine.  

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DANIELLE HANNAH BENSKY

Choreographer

Danielle Hannah Bensky is a Manhattan native who has most recently choreographed the original work "Peace On Your Wings" (Off-Broadway (NYC), Hawaii Theater (Oahu, HI), The Aratani Theater (LA). Dani started with the production in 2014 at its conception and is excited to move forward and grow with her visionary family at Ohana Arts. Dani currently works with Liberate Artists where she teaches master classes at conventions with So You Think You Can Dance artists. She creates works for conservatories across the US. In addition, Dani has choreographed/staged many full-scale musicals & original works for The New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF), Poly Prep Day School, Stagedoor Manor, Ohana Art and York College (CUNY). This is Dani's 5th year with Disney Theatricals. Starting with the company in 2011 as a performer for Disney Cruise Line. Her favorite projects include Carousel, Pippin, Les Mis, Spring Awakening & a new work for NYMF with TONY winner Lena Hall. Dani’s trained in all styles from The Joffrey Ballet School, Alvin Ailey, New Jersey Ballet, Professional Performing Arts School and the Neighborhood Playhouse and was a 2010 Princess Grace Award nominee. Dani is so proud of this brilliant cast! Ichigo Ichie!

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PATRICK LORD

Projection Designer

NEW YORK: Where Words Once Were (Lincoln Center); The Tempest (R. Evolución Latina); The Bodyguard: The Musical (White Plains Performing Arts Center)  NATIONAL TOUR: Mean Girls (Animator)  DC: Earthrise, Voyagers, Digging Up Dessa, Where Words Once Were (The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts); Hamlet, Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theatre Company); Fame: The Musical (Gala Hispanic Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Olney Theatre Center); The Phantom of the Opera (Synetic Theatre); The Wiz (Arts Centric); Love and Information, Building the Wall, Blackberry Winter (Forum Theatre); Mnemonic (Theatre Alliance); Bridges of Madison County, Big Fish, Outside Mullingar, American Idiot, Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Keegan Theatre); Outside the Lines (Arts on the Horizon); Columbinus (1stStage); A Human Being Died That Night (Mosaic Theatre Company of DC); Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, Jumanji (Adventure Theatre), The Color Purple (Riverside Performing Arts Center); The Happiest Place on Earth, Redder Blood, Leto Legend (The Hub Theatre); Don Juan (Taffety Punk)  REGIONAL: South Pacific (Flatrock Playhouse); Desvelado (Peppercorn Theatre); Beauty and the Beast, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Croswell Opera House); Peace On Your Wings (Ohana Arts).  MFA, The University of Texas at Austin.  www.patrickwlord.com.

CONNOR MEERS

Lighting Designer

CONNOR MEERS is currently the Light Board Programmer and Operator at ZACH Theatre in Austin, Texas. Originally from Kaneohe, Hawaii, he found his passion for theater at the Castle Performing Arts Center and went on to receive a BFA in Lighting Design from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University. He has been fortunate enough to work with organizations such as The Muny, The Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, New Jewish Theatre, Insight Theatre Company, as well as 24-7 Daceforce,  Chaminade University, Castle Danceforce, ToKa Media, Hawaii Education of the ARTS, Children’s Theater of Oahu, and of course Ohana Arts. Connor has been involved with the New York and Sacramento tour stops of POYW and is excited for the next chapter with this production.

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