Founded in 1795, Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club represents one of the school’s social clubs and is arguably its most well-known. And since 1844, a student-produced show has been the centerpiece of a subset of members known as the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. But for nearly 225 years, only men were allowed to perform – an anachronistic choice that seems terribly out of place in the 21st century.
All of that changed in 2018, when the group decided to induct six women into the group, including Celia Kenney ’16, who is no stranger to the stage, having performed extensively in productions at Dillingham Hall and Drama Workshop (DWS) during her time in high school. And although her parents Ed ’86 and Kristen “Spanky” Spengler ’86 are best known for their work in the restaurant industry, Celia’s late paternal grandfather, Edward Kamanaloha Kenney Jr. ’51, had a performing career that took him to the stages of Broadway and back to Hawai’i to a number of establishments like the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the old Halekulani Hotel.
Punahou Sessions has largely focused on musical performance, but as kid who spent a significant portion of my time building sets at Dillingham Hall, I’ve always had a soft spot for theater, and who could be more exemplary of the genre than the Great Bard, Shakespeare.
During Shakespeare’s time, all the roles were performed by men, and so it was very intentional and fitting for the barrier-busting Celia to perform the role of Henry V, urging his men to war against the French under the most dire of circumstance.
You might not recognize the location. It’s the upper playground at the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood, and I’ve been eyeing that large rock since we started Punahou Sessions in 2016.
And for a crown? I emailed well-known lei maker Meleana Estes ’98 to craft a beautiful lei po’o. When I explained to her the project and the star, she immediately agreed, noting that she was already a big fan of Celia and her family.