Tracing Hawaii’s mythology and history over the centuries, Ulalena showcases dancers, singers, acrobats and musicians // © 2012 Maui Theatre
When the sun goes down and outdoor activities draw to a close, evening entertainment on Maui keeps the fun alive in the form of superlative stage shows.
Maui lays claim to a surprising variety of high quality evening productions, with shows that appeal to most every audience member. As a result, clients will want to treat themselves to at least one live production during their island visit.
Of course, entertainment is subjective, and one person’s luau is another person’s lounge act. But for the record, here are four of my favorite shows awaiting Maui visitors after dark.
Feast At Lele
Don’t think of Feast At Lele as a luau. It’s actually an upscale dinner show that emphasizes the culture and cuisine of Polynesia. It’s set on the beach in Lahaina town, and its sunset backdrop alone is worth the price of admission.
Rather than selecting their dinner from a long buffet table, guests are indulged in a sit-down five-course dinner complete with tablecloths, china and cloth napkins. The menu features first-rate dishes from Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Samoa, crafted by noted Maui chef James McDonald. Delicacies include sea bean duck salad with poha berry dressing, Maori fishcakes with mussels, salmon and scallops, imu-roasted kalua pig, and fresh island fish with mango sauce.
With each course comes dramatic entertainment from the Polynesian island that corresponds to the food at hand. Dressed in traditional, colorful costumes, a small troupe of performers wow the audience with their talent. It’s a highly engaging evening that clients will remember long after the last dance and final scoop of dessert.
Kupanaha Magic Show
Certain magic acts never lose their allure, like Harry Houdini's great escape, Charles Carter's sawing a lady in half, and Howard Thurson's levitation of an island princess. These and other famous routines spring to life during the Kupanaha Magic Show, a dinner theater production presented by magicians Jody and Kathleen Baran.
The theme of the show focuses on the repertoire of seven world-famous magicians who visited Hawaii in the past 100 years. A century later, the illusions remain fresh and entertaining for contemporary audiences.
Kupanaha (translated as “extraordinarily surprising”) injects a sense of place into the evening by presenting ancient and modern hula along with songs and chants that tell evocative stories of island demigods.
Prior to the show, audience members dine on a three-course meal complete with tableside magic. It all adds up to a spellbinding evening at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
Named in honor of the gentle wind that is unique to Maui, Ulalena inspires audiences with its mix of power and grace and makes a huge impact without spoken dialogue.
Tracing Hawaii’s mythology and history over the centuries, the production showcases dancers, singers, acrobats and musicians who interact with a magnificent set representing everything from volcanoes to vast oceans.
Using chants, aerials, shadow puppetry, special effects and dramatic costumes, the one-and-one-half-hour theater piece takes place in the 700-seat Maui Theatre, created especially for Ulalena.
I highly recommend the VIP package that comes with seating in the front section of the theater and an extra 20 minutes behind the scenes with the cast. Clients can also book a package that includes dinner at some well-known restaurants in the area, including Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Hard Rock Cafe, Lahaina Grill, and Lahaina Prime Rib and Fish Co.
Warren and Annabelle's
I never thought of magic as particularly funny until I saw Warren Gibson in action. His Lahaina-based show, the culmination of an evening at Warren and Annabelle’s, is simultaneously hilarious and astounding as Gibson intersperses hijinx with mind-boggling sleight of hand.
Prior to the show, guests relax in a parlor where they enjoy cocktails, pupus and desserts as Annabelle, the resident ghost, serenades the pre-show festivities on her grand piano.
Guest magicians from around the country stop by to showcase their skills from time to time, but for my money, the best time to go is when Gibson is in the house. He gets the whole audience involved, and his humor is infectious. Better yet, he shakes things up from show to show, so repeat visitors will have just as much fun the second or third time around.