Hawaii Insider: If you enjoy live entertainment, Honolulu wont disappoint


My former city editor always instructed me to be especially cautious with superlatives. But this time, Ill go ahead and blurt it out: Honolulu is one of the biggest towns in the country for live entertainment.

For most visitors, that kind of action means Waikiki. And thats not counting the free live music visitors may run across on an evening stroll down the beach or along Kalakaua Avenue, or the nightly high jinks in the areas various bars and restaurants.

There are currently at least a dozen live shows of note in Waikiki that are finding appreciative audiences among both visitors and locals.

Those I mention here generally welcome, and offer lower prices for, children. Making for a complete evening, some can also be packaged with dinner.

Hawaii is home to many entertainers who are household names across the islands, even if they dont always have a regular room in which to perform.

The most well-known of the bunch -- also famous on the mainland -- is Don Ho.

Now 75, Ho recently returned to Honolulu after a hiatus during which he underwent experimental heart surgery in Thailand.

Youll find Mr. Tiny Bubbles again singing and talking to his loyal audiences on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Hoku Hale Theatre at the Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel. Tickets with or without dinner are available.

The property is also home to homegrown illusionist John Hirokawa, who combines magic and Hawaiian cultural touches in his Magic of Polynesia show, performed nightly in his $7.5 million, 700-seat theater.

Aside from Ho, Waikikis longest-running attraction is the Society of Seven, a Vegas-style act that has reliably entertained audiences twice daily, save Mondays, for at least 35 years at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach.

Audiences can choose from show-only and buffet-included ticket packages.

At the opposite extreme, the newest extravaganza in town is Cirque Hawaii, which makes good use of Waikikis former Imax theater on Seaside Avenue.

The company of 34 acrobats, contortionists, magicians and comedians draws nothing from the traditional Hawaiian cultural pool.

Nevertheless, it offers thrilling, professional entertainment, patterned after Cirque du Soleil, twice nightly, seven days a week.

More conservatively and less frequently, theres just one real local luau -- with both traditional Hawaiian entertainment and cuisine -- currently on offer in Waikiki.

The outdoor Royal Hawaiian Luau now gets under way each Monday on the Ocean Lawn at the venerable hotel of the same name.

Meanwhile, in January the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa replaced its Friday-night Tepatasi Luau with the Old Hawaiian Nights Concert Series, which features a monthly rotating roster of local recording artists who perform Hawaiian music at the Moana Terrace every Saturday night.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulanis dramatic new multimedia dinner show, Creation -- A Polynesian Journey, another un-luau, depicts the mythical birth of the islands of the Pacific and their subsequent habitation by the seafaring Polynesian tribes. Performances are daily except Mondays and Wednesdays.

Also on stage at the P.K., in the Ainahau Showroom Tuesdays through Sundays, is American Timescape, a chronological trip through pop culture via song and dance.

One of Hawaiis best-known comedians and radio personalities, Augie Tulba -- known simply as Augie T. -- performs on Wednesdays for the Hawaiian Style Comedy Show in the Esprit Lounge at the Sheraton Waikiki.

Thirty stories up, in the scenic Hanohano Room atop the hotel, Jazz Night is held on Fridays, featuring a variety of local artists and a terrific view of Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Rhythm-and-blues entertainer Azure McCall, a longtime favorite known as Honolulus first lady of jazz, performs at Deep Blue, Hawaiis first supper club. Reservations are recommended for her dinner show at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.

Look also to see if the monthly Concert in the Courtyard is on tap at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider.

Sponsored by radio station KINE-FM, the open-air concert around the hotels landmark banyan tree takes place on different dates, usually one month apart.

The price is right, too: Its free for all comers. Or, if you want a parking validation, theres a one-drink minimum.

Robert W. Bone has been writing travel articles and books, including Pelican Publishings Maverick Guide to Hawaii, from his Hawaii home for 35 years.

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