Audiences have stomped to the big Off-Broadway percussion hit Stomp and have enjoyed the talent of Tap Dogs, Momix, the Hawaii International Jazz Festival, the American Repertory Dance Company, and John Kaimikaua's halau -- all at the Hawaii Theatre, 1130 Bethel St. (tel. 808/528-0506; www.hawaiitheatre.com). It's the Carnegie Hall of the Pacific, still basking in its renaissance following a 4-year, $22-million renovation (it was built in 1922). The neoclassical Beaux Arts landmark features an original 1922 dome, 1,400 plush seats, and a hydraulically elevated organ. Breathtaking murals create an atmosphere that's making the theater a leading multipurpose center.
Other smaller theaters on Oahu are: the Manoa Valley Theatre, 2833 E. Manoa Rd. (tel. 808/988-6131; www.manoavalleytheatre.com), Honolulu's equivalent of Off-Broadway, with well-known shows performing; Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave. (tel. 808/733-0274; www.diamondheadtheatre.com), hosting a variety of performances from musicals to comedies to classical dramas; Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St. (tel. 808/536-4222; www.kumukahua.org), producing plays dealing with the island experience, often written by residents; Army Community Theatre, Richardson Theatre, Fort Shafter (tel. 808/438-5230; www.armytheatre.com), offering revivals of Broadway musicals; and Leeward Community College Theatre, 96-045 Ala Ike St. (tel. 808/455-0385; www.LCCtheatre.hawaii.edu), featuring an eclectic slate of productions, from visiting performing companies to local students' work.
The highly successful Hawaii Opera Theatre (tel. 808/596-7858; www.hawaiiopera.org) takes to the stage from January to March. Started in 1960 (past hits have included La Bohème, Carmen, Turandot, Romeo and Juliet, Rigoletto, and Aïda), the Opera still draws fans to the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall. In the summer during July, the Hawaii Opera Theatre puts on a lighter performance, such as South Pacific. Dance also makes the list at the center with Ballet Hawaii (tel. 808/521-6514; www.ballethawaii.org) performing twice a year in August (in 2007, Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty was presented) and December (the annual Nutcracker ballet, generally sold out).
Showroom Acts & Revues
One showroom act that has maintained a following is the Society of Seven's nightclub act (a blend of skits, Broadway hits, popular music, and costumed musical acts), in the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach (tel. 808/922-6408; www.societyofseven.com). Shows are Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm; direct admission is $39 adults and $17 children 4 to 20. If you buy your tickets from the hotel, it will run you $45 and $26 respectively. "The Magic of Polynesia," at the Waikiki Beachcomber (tel. 808/971-4321 or 877/971-4321; www.magicofpolynesia.com), starring illusionist John Hirokana (Michael Villoria fills in on Sun and Mon nights), is performed nightly at 6:45pm (with dinner: $85-$139 adults, children $57-$68 ages 4-11; without dinner, starting at 7:30pm: $53 adults, $35 children ages 4-11.) Tip: Book on the website for a 20% discount.
Also on Kalakaua Avenue is the still-sizzling Polynesian revue "Creation -- A Polynesian Odyssey" in the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani's second-floor Ainahau Showroom (tel. 808/931-4660; www.princess-kaiulani.com/dining/creation). Produced by Tihati (pronounced tea-hot-tea), the state's largest entertainment company, the show is a theatrical journey of fire dancing, special effects, illusions, hula, and Polynesian dances from Hawaii and the South Pacific. Dinner shows are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and cost $95 to $145 adults and $72 to $109 for children 5 to 12 years; show only is $55 adults, $42 children.
The best in comedy is Andy Bumatai, who performs local stand-up sketches that will have you not only understanding local residents, but also screaming with laughter. Another excellent comic is Frank Delima. If he's playing anywhere on Oahu, it's worth the drive to see this comic genius, who sings, dances, and performs comic routines that will have you laughing until your sides hurt.
The sun is setting, the tiki torches are lit, the pig is taken from the imu (an oven in the earth), the drums begin pounding -- it's luau time. Recently, three new luau have started: in Waikiki, on the North Shore, and in windward Oahu at Sea Life Park. Regrettably, there's no commercial luau on Oahu that comes close to Maui's Old Lahaina Luau, or Hawaii Island's legendary Kona Village Luau. In Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, 2259 Kalakaua Ave., at Seaside Ave. (tel. 888/808-4668; www.honuhawaiiactivities.com), holds Waikiki's only oceanfront luau. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted with a Hawaiian flower lei and a refreshing drink, followed by a feast: a variety of traditional Hawaiian as well as continental American dishes. The buffet menu features delicacies such as roasted kalua pig, mahimahi, teriyaki steak, poi, sweet potatoes, rice, vegetables, haupia (coconut pudding), and a selection of delicious cakes. It all ends with the Royal Polynesian Extravaganza, which features songs and dances from Hawaii and other Polynesian island nations. Luau is Monday at 5:30pm; the cost is $155 adults and $80 for children (ages 5-12).
The largest luau venues are Germaine's (tel. 800/367-5655 or 808/941-3338; www.germainesluau.com) and Paradise Cove Luau (tel. 800/775-2683 or 808/842-5911; www.paradisecovehawaii.com), both about a 40-minute drive away from Waikiki on the Leeward Coast. Bus pickups and drop-offs in Waikiki are part of the deal.
Germaine's tries awfully hard and is a much more intimate affair than those legendary shows on Maui or Hawaii, but the experience is not as complete. Cost for Germaine's is $72 per adult, $62 for 14- to 20-year-olds, and $52 for 6- to 13-year-olds (5-year-olds and younger are free) -- the prices include tax and transportation. The shows are held nightly from 6 to 9pm.
Paradise Cove, too, is a mixed bag, with 600 to 800 guests a night. The small thatched village feels more like a Hawaiian theme park, with Hawaiian games, hukilau net throwing and gathering, craft demonstrations, and a beautiful shoreline looking out over what is usually a storybook sunset. Tahitian dance and ancient and modern hula make this a fun-filled evening for those spirited enough to join in. The food is safe, though not breathtaking: Hawaiian kalua pig, lomi salmon, poi, and coconut pudding and cake, as well as more traditional fare. Paradise Cove is extremely popular because of its idyllic setting and good entertainment quality. Tickets, including transportation and taxes, are $82 to $142 for adults, $72 to $127 for ages 13 to 20, $62 to $115 for ages 4 to 12, and free for those 3 and under. Shows are nightly from 5 to 9pm.
On the North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center presents "Ali'i Luau," featuring a traditional luau buffet and entertainment during the meal. You can add to your luau package the "Ha Breath of Life" evening show. Tickets for the dinner only are $35 adults and $27 children ages 5 to 11. The luau plus the evening show are $76 adults and $62 children, and include transportation from Waikiki. Note: The Polynesian Cultural Center does not serve or allow alcohol on the property. To book, call tel. 800/367-7060 or go to www.polynesia.com.
On the North Shore, the Turtle Bay Resort presents "Voyages of Luau," on the lawn overlooking the ocean. It includes a "Taste of the Islands" luau buffet and a Polynesian revue featuring the songs and dances of the Tuamotu Islands, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, and Hawaii. Tickets for the dinner and show are $95 adults and $55 children ages 4 to 11. To book, call tel. 808/293-6000 or go to www.turtlebayresort.com/activities/luau.asp.
The Island's Best Poetry Slam
If you are on island the first Thursday of the month, head for the Poetry Slam at the Hawaiian Hut, Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Dr. (tel. 808/387-9664; www.hawaiislam.com), where standing-room-only crowds (500 is not uncommon) come to listen to Hawaii's best performance poets and live music, while painters and DJs keep the energy high. The show starts at 8:30pm; the cover is $3 before the show starts and $5 after.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.