© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Hawaiʻi youth musical hopes to spread message of peace

Peace on Your Wings 1.jpg
Ohana Arts
The youth theater company Ohana Arts is planning an encore debut of "Peace on Your Wings." The production first premiered in 2014.

Emi Sampson was just 7 years old when she saw her sister in “Peace on Your Wings.” The production follows the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of cancer after the Hiroshima atomic bombing in 1945.

The Hawaiʻi youth theater company Ohana Arts debuted the play in 2014.

Emi & Wyatt.JPG
Jayna Omaye
Emi Sampson will play the lead role of Sadako Sasaki in "Peace on Your Wings." She joins Wyatt Tamamoto, who plays Sadako's brother, Masahiro.

“Just the whole aspect of it really brought a lot to my heart," she said. "It hits home too because my whole family lives in Japan… and so all of it just pieces together a part of my heritage.”

The Kalani High School senior is now preparing to play the lead role of Sadako in the encore debut of the show.

“The show itself brings so much love and positivity and peace," she said. "And so spreading that message meant a lot to me as well.”

Ohana Arts co-founder Laurie Rubin said the pandemic canceled their plans to bring back the production in 2020. It was meant to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But she said they took that time to make some changes. The production has a 24-member cast ranging in age from 8 to 17. And the show is set to launch next month at Hawaiʻi Theatre, as well as in California and Japan.

2023 cast.JPG
Jayna Omaye
The encore production features 24 cast members ranging in age from 8 to 17.

“When people leave the theater, we don’t want them to be depressed. They leave wanting to get involved," Rubin said. "And we’ve heard stories of children and adults folding cranes. And we’ve had teachers saying, ʻI want this to be part of my classroom curriculum.’ I think the show has inspired people in their lives in very personal, unique ways."

Sadako Sasaki became a symbol of peace after she was diagnosed with leukemia. She and her family and friends folded over 1,000 origami cranes in the hopes that she would get better.

Wyatt Tamamoto plays Sadako’s brother, Masahiro. The ʻIolani School junior said this experience has helped to bring the story to life.

“It’s gotten way more personal seeing him portrayed in this as opposed to teachers talking about it or showing slideshows about it," he said. "As a show, it’s designed to touch human emotion. And it makes it much more connected to real life in that sense.”

For more information on the musical, click here.

Jayna Omaye was a culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
Related Stories