'Cirque Polynesia' Production Open in Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui is home to this thrilling performance

By: By Naomi Kahlon


A "Cirque Polynesia" cast member performs the rolla bolla. // © 2009Cirque Polynesia

In the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s Monarchy Showroom, ballroom elegance meets tenuous grace in the new “Cirque Polynesia” show. The theatrical performance tells the story of a shipwreck, the formation of friendships and romance, all in 75 captivating minutes.

“It is an abstract, contemporary interpretation of the cirque and Polynesian worlds coming together,” Cornell “Tuffy” Nicholas, the show’s producer, explained. “It’s a combination of artistry and human ability that provides an entertainment experience that is inspiring and moving.”

Nicholas grew up performing in the circus. Both of his parents worked with the Ringling Brothers, his father as a ringmaster and his mother as a polar bear trainer.

“I was a performer by the time I was probably seven and did almost every act in the circus,” Nicholas said.

He has also produced similar cirque shows, including “Cirque at the Apollo” and the “Cirque Hawaii” show that ran for three years at the Imax Theater on Oahu until its lease expired. After a brief period, Nicholas and his creative team came up with the concept for “Cirque Polynesia” and found a home for the show on Maui. (It should be noted that these Cirque shows are in no way affiliated with Cirque du Soleil, however.)

For the show, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s Monarchy Ballroom was converted into a theater. The showroom houses 600 comfortably by way of split-level seating, creating an intimate setting between the audience and the performers.

Nicholas said that the Hyatt Regency was an excellent location because it was the “most progressive hotel” and had the “highest and best space” for a ballroom to be converted into a live stage show.

“We’re all extremely excited about the opening of ‘Cirque Polynesia’ to provide our guests — and everyone visiting Maui — with a unique and memorable experience,” added Michael Jokovich, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa.

And it is doubtful that clients will forget some of the show’s amazing acts. One, in particular, is a balancing act known as the “rolla bolla,” performed by cast member Simon Arestov. Standing on razor-thin platforms placed atop rolling objects, Arestov stacks the platforms to dizzying heights.

Astonishing aerial acrobatics and illusions are also performed by cirque artists from Hawaii, Russia, Germany, Kazakhstan and Moldova. A modern-day aerial act known as the “perch” is performed by a mother and daughter team — sixth- and seventh-generation members of the famous Wallenda circus family. For this stunt, Lyric, the daughter, hangs by one ankle holding her mother, Reitta’s, arm and twirls her in hypnotizing gyrations like a helicopter blade some 40 feet above the audience.

The show also includes high-wire acts, a Russian swing performance and instantaneous costume changes performed to a heart-racing and pounding beat that are sure to hold clients’ attention.

“Cirque Polynesia’s” original musical score features live performances from Diane Salonga Rubio, a classically trained cellist, flute and strings musician, and Dan Cruces, who plays drums, electric percussion and the trumpet.

In terms of sales, Nicholas said the show has been doing well, and he expects it to continue.

Ticket packages include the Dinner and Show option and the Producer’s Special. Clients who take part in the Dinner and Show package can dine at the Hyatt’s poolside Umalu restaurant, which offers a three-course meal with a selection of fresh Maui produce, mahimahi, prime rib and sesame-orange chicken stir-fry. All meals include lilikoi-mango cheesecake for dessert and soft drinks. A children’s menu is also available.

Clients who prefer the VIP treatment should look into the Producer’s Special. With this package, clients enjoy the show from a couch just a few feet from the stage while sipping on champagne and indulging in an upgraded dinner. Only three couches are available, and clients have their photos taken with the cast, receive an autographed program, take a backstage tour and more.

Whether clients choose to book a package or show-only tickets, witnessing the worlds of cirque and Polynesia come together in this showcase of contemporary art and celebration of human ability is sure to leave them with a sense of awe.