About the Founders

ʻŌhiʻa Productions is a non-profit, § 501(c)(3) organization founded in March of 1995 by Lisa Matsumoto and Michael Furuya to provide creative, educational and inspiring theatrical experiences to Hawaiʻi's children and families.


Lisa Matsumoto

Co-Founder, Former Managing & Artistic Director, Playwright

A Photo of Lisa Matsumoto

Lisa Matsumoto held a B.A. in Drama and Theatre and an M.F.A. in Youth Theatre with an emphasis in playwriting from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She was the creator and playwright of the award-winning Once Upon One Time trilogy which includes: Once Upon One Time, Once Upon One Noddah Time and Happily Eva Afta. Additional works include: Das How Come, The Princess and the Iso Peanut, On Dragonfly Wings (which was selected as one of four musicals for the 12th Annual ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles in 2007) and ʻŌhiʻa Productions’ Educational Road Shows. She also wrote and co-directed The Wizard of Oz: Local Style a local concert adaptation of the popular story for The Honolulu Symphony.

Lisa received Poʻokela awards for: leading actress for her role as Da Wicked Queen in Once Upon One Time, original script for Happily Eva Afta, Das How Come, and The Princess and the Iso Peanut, and a special adjudicator’s award “for her outstanding contribution to Oʻahu’s theatres”. She also received the Elliot Cades Award for Literature 2000 which goes to “a proven writer who has published a significant body of work of exceptional quality”. Her plays have been voted Hawaiʻi’s favorite locally written plays and her work has merited feature stories in Midweek, Malamalama, Honolulu Weekly, Honolulu Magazine, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and The Honolulu Advertiser.

Lisa was also the author of How the B-52 Cockroach Learned to Fly (1996 Ka Pala Pala Po’okela award for Excellence in Children’s Books), Wailana the Waterbug (2000 Ka Pala Pala Poʻokela award for Excellence in Children’s Books) and local bestsellers Beyond ʻŌhiʻa Valley: Adventures in a Hawaiian Rainforest, The Adventures of Gary and Harry: A Tale of Two Turtles and The Christmas Gift of Aloha.

Michael Furuya

Creative Director

A Photo of Michael Furuya

Michael Furuya is a graduate of the Academy of Art College in San Francisco with a B.F.A. in Illustration. Michael’s credits include: brochure covers for First Hawaiian Bank, an illustrated cover of GTE Hawaiian Tel’s 1990 Phone Book Series; illustrations in various publication including Honolulu, Aloha, HMSA’s Island Scene, and Hawaiʻi Investor Magazine; illustrations for Western Publishing; illustrations for the book, America’s Children; illustrations for Meredith Corporation’s Christmas books; a illustrated cover for a Hawaiʻi Opera Theatre program; and illustrations for Hawaiʻi Nature Center and Ala Moana Shopping Center children’s activity books.

He is the illustrator for the award winning children’s books How the B-52 Cockroach Learned to Fly and Wailana the Waterbug, and local bestseller Beyond ʻŌhiʻa Valley: Adventures in a Hawaiian Rainforest, The Adventures of Gary and Harry: A Tale of Two Turtles and The Christmas Gift of Aloha. His theatre credits include: Puppet Designer/Constructor, Puppeteer, Scenic Painter, Set Designer/Constructor, Costume Designer/Constructor and Technical Director.

Michael received a Poʻokela award for his costume designs for Happily Eva Afta. Michael has designed sets and costumes for the educational road shows, Fun with Fables, I Wish…Wishing Tales from Around the World, Legends of the Pacific, Voices of the Rainforest, In the Clear Blue Sea, Under the Hawaiian Sky, Beneath the Ocean Blue and Wings of the Islands, as well as many of Kipapa Elementary Performing Arts Program productions, including Winnie the Pooh and Deep in a Hawaiian Rainforest. Puppet credits include Little Shop of Horrors and On Dragonfly Wings.