Stage Might

Three productions add pizazz to Maui's entertainment scene

By: Marty Wentzel

Three distinctive shows are brightening the nightlife scene for visitors to Maui: “Tony N Tina’s Wedding,” “Ululena” and “Warren & Annabelle’s.”

“Tony N Tina’s Wedding,” which opened at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa on Nov. 1, is Hawaii’s only theater attraction at a resort.

“We brought the show to Maui because the island has very little nightlife, besides luaus and Polynesian shows,” said Jeff Gitlin, producer of “Tony N Tina’s Wedding” at Hyatt Maui. “We certainly didn’t want to compete with all the exciting shows in Waikiki. We felt that on Maui, there needed to be other options.”

“Tony N Tina’s Wedding” has been going strong in New York for 16 years, making it the longest-running off-Broadway production. The story line involves two New York Italian families whose daughter and son are getting married. The audience joins the characters for the service and reception.

Gitlin, who also launched a version of “Tony N Tina’s Wedding” in Las Vegas, said he plans to run the show on Maui indefinitely.

“In Vegas we see repeat customers all the time,” he said. “Each time you go, you get a different perspective.”

Tickets are $76 per person, including an Italian/Polynesian dinner buffet, a champagne toast, wedding cake and dancing. Agents presenting their business cards get two tickets for the price of one. Call 808-667-4727.

“Ululena,” which debuted in July 1999 at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina, draws an average of 500 people per night. It traces Hawaiian culture from its creation to its 1970s resurgence in popularity.

“Without spoken dialogue, our dancers, singers, acrobats and musicians bring Hawaii’s history and legends to life using chants, puppetry, special effects, costumes and scenography,” said John Young, Maui Theatre’s general manager.

The 700-seat Maui Theatre was created especially for the 75-minute production.

“The stage itself is one-of-a-kind,” Young said. “Built in Montreal and moved piece-by-piece to Maui, it has state-of-the-art technology unique to the show and the Maui Theatre.”

“Ulalena” now offers the producer’s package for $65 per person, including a chance to mingle on stage with the cast. Regular admission is $45. Travel agents showing business or IATA cards pay half price. Call 877-688-4800.

“Warren & Annabelle’s,” another Lahaina-based production, showcases the talents of magician/comedian Warren Gibson. To create the theater, Gibson and his wife Lisa renovated a space previously housing a nightclub and bar. Their $1.2 million venue opened four years ago and now entertains 800 guests per week.

The two-hour show begins as guests step into Annabelle’s Chamber. Guests sit around small tables or on comfortable sofas and consume pupus and drinks as Annabelle, the so-called “resident ghost,” plays piano and takes song requests. Next, guests move into a 78-person theater to experience Gibson’s sleight-of-hand.

“This is the only close-up magic theater venue in Hawaii,” said Lisa Gibson. Presented nightly except Sundays, the show costs $40 per person and $70 for show/food/drink packages. Travel agents receive 15% admission discount. Call 808-667-6244.