After several failed shows, the $20-million Royal Hawaiian Theater on the top floor of the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki has finally found a keeper - and what a show it is!
Legends in Concert has launched their newest show, "Rock-A-Hula" - a unique show specifically tailored for a Waikiki audience. The show features performances by exceptionally talented tribute artists honoring the young and older Elvis Presley, Elton John, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga.
About Legends in Concert Waikiki
Legends in Concert Waikiki is a partnership between On Stage Entertainment, which operates hugely successful shows in Las Vegas, NV; Atlantic Cy, NJ; Branson, MO; and Myrtle Beach SC., and Stars of Paradise Tours & Attractions which owns and operates the award-winning Star of Honolulu as well as other Hawaii tourism offerings.
"Rock-A-Hula" combines the work of five world-class tribute artists, a live band and dancers with state-of-the-art sound, lighting and video along with elaborate stage sets.
I had the privilege of attending the show as part of their Green Room package along with two of the public relations who work with Legends in Concert. This is the package that I would enthusiastically encourage everyone to consider in order to experience everything that Legends in Concert Waikiki has to offer.
We were fortunate that our host and guide for the evening was Brian Brigner, the Chief Operating Officer of Legends in Concert Waikiki and Vice President and COO of On Stage Entertainment. From my discussions with Brian, it is clear to me that Legends is in this for the long haul and that they understand that it may take some time for the show to build the reputation and achieve the success that they have seen at their other locations.
Green Room Package
The Green Room Package is Legend in Concert Waikiki's "ultimate experience." The evening begins with a specialty welcome cocktail and hors d'oeuvres in the VIP Lounge followed by a special visit to the Green Room where you are welcomed with a glass of champagne and a chance to meet and have your photo taken with one of the show's stars. In our case, we had the chance to meet Damian Brantley who portrays Michael Jackson in the show.
Following the Green Room reception, we were escorted on a backstage tour which took us through the show's dressing rooms and ultimately onto the stage itself where Brian explained much of the technical aspects of presenting such a multi-faceted production.
After our tour, we were escorted to our private table located stage-side where we enjoyed a delicious dinner. Our dinner began with a rainbow salad with local greens, heart of palm and Maine lobster. Following the first course we enjoyed a surf n' turf style entrée complete with grilled tenderloin steak and Atlantic salmon served with sautéed fresh market vegetables and truffle mashed potatoes. Our dinner finished with a decadent lava flow dessert of warm molten chocolate cake with macadamia nut ice cream and raspberry sauce.
As we were finishing our dinner, I noticed the seats in the main theater were beginning to fill with those who had elected one of the show's other packages. What that meant is that it was almost time for the show to begin.
As the lights dim, the theater's video screens come alive with vintage Hawaii video. You can actually smell the scents of the islands in the theater as Hawaiian chant and ancient hula take the stage. As the video begins to show scenes of the young Elvis Presley in Hawaii, Johnny Fortuno portraying the younger Elvis arrives on stage in an outrigger canoe to begin his performance.
Born and raised in Wahiawa, Oahu, Fortuno was the winner of the Las Vegas preliminary round of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition in 2011. As the young Elvis, Fortuno moves through his set which includes such favorites as "Paradise Hawaiian Style," "Drums of the Islands," "Rock-A-Hula," "Blue Hawaii," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "Bossa Nova, Baby." You really need to pay attention to the video screens to see how wonderfully his performance is synched to scenes of the King in his classic movies. Legends in Concert Waikiki is a very interactive show as the performers actually leave the stage to shake hands and greet the audience, often offering a lei to the ladies.
As the younger Elvis' performance ends, Mitch Adams takes the stage as Elton John. As he bounces across the stage, plays the piano, sings and wanders through the audience, you really think you're watching Elton John live. He perfectly captures the essence of the just turned 65 Elton John as he sings such favorites as "Crocodile Rock," "I'm Still Standing," "Your Song," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," and "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" As Adam admits "I love impersonating Elton John. He is free to do what he enjoys. In this, we are much alike. To me, the essence of entertaining is doing what you enjoy and being appreciated for it."
The next performer to take the stage is Damian Brantley as "Michael Jackson." I had met Damian briefly in the green room and I completely felt that I was standing next to and talking to the King of Pop. It was no easy task for Damian to capture Jackson. "The most difficult thing wasn’t sounding like Jackson or dancing like him; it was doing both at the same time." No worry, however, Brantley performance wowed the crown with some of Jackson's top hits such as "Jam," "Smooth Criminal," "Thriller," and "Billie Jean."
The penultimate performer of the evening was Coty Alexander as Lady Gaga. I admit that I am not familiar with Lady Gaga's music, but Alexander has shown that she is a consummate performer having played the role as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Good Morning America. Alexander has an impressive list of credits to her name. She also has performed tributes of Gwen Stefani, Madonna and Marilyn Monroe. Alexander performed Gaga's hits "Paparazzi," "Bad Romance," "Telephone," and "Poker Face."
The final individual act of the evening featured Grahame Patrick as the older Elvis Presley. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Patrick grew up as a fan of Elvis and recalls watching him as a young boy. "I was only six years old and I used to mimic his voice and his movements in front of the mirror." Needless to say, he has perfected the act and he looks, talks, moves and sounds just like the older Elvis.
With coordinated videos from the Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii concert in 1973, Patrick takes us through a litany of hits that include "C.C. Rider," "Burning Love," and a very moving rendition of "I'll Remember You" with footage of Elvis, Priscilla and his daughter Lisa Marie. As he sings an extended version of "Suspicious Minds," Patrick makes his way through the entire audience shaking hands and greeting folks. Back on stage the show builds to conclusion with a dramatic version of "An American Trilogy" and concludes, very appropriately as the other performers join him on stage for "Drums of the Islands," the song which was features in the wedding finale scene of Blue Hawaii. As expected, the show ended with the entire cast singing "Aloha `Oe," as the bid goodbye until we meet again.
Legends in Concert Waikiki offers a number of packages which make it affordable for any budget. All of the following prices are subject to change.
The Green Room Package which I attended costs $180 for adults and $145.80 for kama'aina (Hawaii residents).
The VIP Package includes a photo with one of the show's stars, a specialty cocktail in the exclusive VIP Lounge, followed by a stage-side private table gourmet Hawaiian dinner and "Rock-A-Hula" show. This package costs $140 for adults and $85 for a children. Kama'aina rates are $113.40 for adults and $68.85 for a children.
The Luau Package kicks off with a welcome Mai Tai and luau buffet at the Treetop Lanai in the shade of a rare 100-year-old Ackee tree, followed by cocktails and the "Rock-A-Hula" show. This package costs $90 for adults and $55 for children. Kama'aina rates are $72.90 and $44.55 for children.
Finally the Cocktail & Show Package combines cocktail hours before and after the show with admission to the "Rock-A-Hula" show. The cost is $50 per adult and $30 per child. Kama'aina rates are just $40.50 for adults and $24.30 for children.
Taken As a Whole
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Legends in Concert Waikiki and highly recommend it for visitors and locals alike. The entire production is first class and unlike anything that you'll see anywhere else in Hawaii. While you are watching a top Las Vegas worthy show, by integrating so many Hawaiian elements into the production, the show never drifts too far from its Hawaii roots.