UPDATE: Wow! This was a great luau! We’ve been to probably… 8 luaus, so we know a little about what to expect. Some are better than others – we went to one on the Big Island last year that was a disappointment, but so far every Maui luau we’ve been to has been a good experience. We’ve even been to the Wailea Maui Marriott’s show before, remembered chiefly for the mother/calf pair of whales that showed up close to shore doing the show. But tonight’s show, called “Honua’ula”, was one of the best we’ve ever enjoyed.
Why? Because they do a great job with their dancing and music, and they didn’t let their narrative get bogged down with the historical “greatest hits” story that many other hula revues tell. That is, they either go with an omnibus “all the dances of all the cultures of Polynesia” story, or they tell the creation myths of the islands (there are several versions) followed by the arrival of Western “civilization,” music, and mores. Meaning, the ukes and and the Victorian-inspired muu-muus appear, and then the Merrie Monarch brings back the hula after the missionaries banned it.
But this show, which has totally been revamped since we saw it a few years ago, stays with the “creation myth” and “gods and goddesses” theme, with some nice stagecraft to show flowing lava from Pele’s hands (glittering red banners) or the mists on the slopes of Haleakala (a silk dancer suspended from a tree on the hula grounds) or a cloud goddess (a hula dress consisting of billowing parachute silk).
There’s a bit of Tahitian style dancing in the beginning, but it morphs into the slower, more undulating “ancient hula” in the Hawaiian style, and stays there. The band played modern, amplified music, but for the “myth” dances, the MC “Akepono” chanted and played the Ipu, or hollow gourd.
David took a few pictures, but only a few of the hula portion of the program. plus a shot of their Samoan “fire knife” dancer, who’s something of a local legend.
Meanwhile, we had a wonderful time at the “fun table,” with Canadians Jan and Jules, along with some other fun couples. We all cheered when Judy got up to learn the hula, which for once was not the Hukilau, but a dance new to me that was about the eyes, hands, body, and various hula moves that was still very graceful. We laughed along as the tempo got faster and then Judy returned to our table to enthusiastic applause.
We really were the Fun Table, right down front, and Jules was the main instigator. As for the open bar drinks, we sucked ’em up. Also, the food was very good, especially the purple Molokai sweet potatoes.
We lucked out, as we booked just this morning and went for the upgraded “Premium” dinner package, which was why we were at the first-row, “fun” table to begin with. It also meant we were first to go through the buffet line. It wasn’t the cheapest luau we might have found on Maui, but I think it was probably the best.
Oh, and there were breaching whales right at the most dramatic moment of the sunset, before the main show began, so…WIN! with six pieces of FLAIR and AWESOME!
I can has iPhone?