Legend In Concert Waikiki’s “Rock-A-Hula!” show has been running at the Royal Hawaiian Theatre for over a year now and is still going strong. Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s a blast to see it again, especially as there are occasional changes to the line-up; a rotating cast of “stars.”
The current cast features Michael Jackson (Corey Melton), Britney Spears (Katie Murdock), Madonna (Kimberly Goltry), and of course Elvis Presley (Johnny Fortuno). You’re greeted by a star as you enter, when you’re asked to pose for a souvenir photo. The well-designed auditorium offers a good view from wherever you sit, though the seats down front are the best. There’s also stage side seating for a more up-close-and-personal view.
It’s not surprising that a show entitled “Rock-A-Hula” would have Hawaiian touches throughout. Images of the rolling surf and volcanos are seen on the front stage scrim and side screens as the show begins (the screens display images throughout the show as well, giving the production a high tech feel). You hear the sound of the conch shell blowing, and hula dancers perform on the steps as the live band segues into “Drums of the Islands,” a song Elvis performed in the film “Paradise, Hawaiian Style.”
Fortuno’s even wearing a costume like the one Elvis wore when he sang the song in the movie, riding a boat at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Fortuno is an award-winning Elvis Tribute Artist, and has a lot of fun in this opening sequence, which also features other songs from Elvis’ Hawaiian films, such as “Rock-A-Hula” itself, from “Blue Hawaii.”
The energy and high energy continue with Murdock deliving an athletic turn as Britney Spears — not surprising for someone who makes her entrance from the ceiling — romping around the stage as she works her way through trademark hits like “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!...I Did It Again.”
Melton has Michael Jackson’s dance moves honed to the point where you could swear you were watching the genuine article; “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller” (complete with ghouls) are all present and accounted for, along with Jackson’s signature step — the moonwalk (you’re also reminded that Jackson’s last U.S. show was January 4, 1997, in Honolulu).
Goltry’s Madonna also gets a good work out, vamping through “Justify My Love,” “Express Yourself,” “Vogue,” and “Material Girl” (complete with nattily attired backing dancers). But she also gets a chance to stretch out vocally, slowing the pace down for “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” It’s an interesting choice, given that the song isn’t automatically associated with Madonna, and it works to give the show a different character.
Then it’s time for Elvis to return in his ’70s attire, entering to same theme music the King did (“Also Sprach Zarathustra,” better known as the theme from the film “2001: A Space Odyssey”) before going into “See See Rider.” There’s another nod to Hawaii with a performance of “I’ll Remember You,” which Elvis performed at the 1973 “Aloha From Hawaii” shows in Honolulu, and Fortuno also indulges in something else the King used to do in concert; walk through the audience and handing out scarves to lucky ladies. “Suspicious Minds,” “An American Trilogy,” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” are also part of the show.
The entire cast returns for the end of the show, and in a nice touch, asks the audience to sing along to “Aloha Oe,” written by Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning queen.
Afterwards, you’re invited to mingle with cast in the lobby; you can purchase the souvenir photo you posed for earlier, but the cast is happy to pose for shots taken with your own camera as well. Be sure to take the time check out the memorabilia on display in the lobby.
There are four ticket packages to suit every budget. The “Legendary Cocktail Show” package comes with one complimentary drink. “Terrace Dining Buffet” offers a complimentary drink, a buffet meal and live entertainment, the other big advantage being you get to enter the theater before the “Legendary Cocktail Show” folks and thus can get a better seat. The “Stageside VIP Dinner” offers two complimentary drinks, pupus (hors d’oeuvres), and seating right down front, where you’ll be served with a steak and salmon dinner. The “Green Room Dinner” offers complimentary champagne and pupus, a backstage tour, a free souvenir photo, seating at a private table, and a steak and lobster dinner (though the lobster can be tricky to crack open). Note that the “super premium drinks” are not that strong; you’ll be better offer with beer, wine, or straight liquor.
Whichever package you choose, you’re guaranteed a great night out at “Rock-A-Hula,” experiencing one of Waikiki’s best shows.
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