An evening of themed entertainment, island style
Published: January 20, 2009 at 1:14 AM
Well, with a high temperature of 54 degrees (and a low of 30!) expected in Orlando today, I needed a better, warmer place to visit today.
So... welcome to Maui!
...Where it's sunny, 80 degrees and we're going to experience one of America's oldest forms of themed entertainment - an authentic Hawaiian lu'au.
Last night, Laurie and I drove down from our hotel on Ka'anapali Beach to the Old Lahaina Lu'au, hailed by many critics as the best on the island. For $95.83 per person, the lu'au includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and open bar, plus a musical history of the Hawaiian islands, told through dance. Unlike many of the shows performed at area hotels, the Old Lahaina Lu'au is noted for its more authentic tone, treating hula and other Hawaiian dance not as gimmicks in a variety show, but as an art form, worthy of a dignified performance.
Upon arriving, greeters offer you a lei in welcome...
...as well as a Mai Tai (or a fruit punch for non-drinkers).
Dinner is served at sundown, but first, the roast pig needs to be unearthed from the "imu" firepit, where it has been cooking all day.
The Kalua Pua'a pork soon reappears, along with the other Hawaiian goodies I piled on my dinner plate.
The pork is at the upper right, about 2 o'clock. Following clockwise around the plate, we've got Mahi Mahi, Taro Salad (taro and spinach in coconut sauce), stir fry vegetables, banana bread, octopus "poke" (marinated with Maui onions), ahi tuna "poke", Lomi Lomi Salmon (marinated with onions and tomatoes), a green salad, and at 12 o'clock on the plate, Pulehu Steak (grilled top sirloin). Just below the sirloin is Big Island sweet potatoes. Yep, they're purple, not the orange that mainlanders (okay, most of us) are used to.
Personally, I thought the octopus the best selection on my plate, with the ahi a close second. I guess I like "poke!"
But I liked the show even more. The show traces hula's roots to Tahiti, and its ancient drum dance.
Dancers, chants and music blend with live narration in telling the Hawaiian myth of Pele, the fire goddess.
After the missionaries arrive and hula is banned, the dance returns at the coronation of King David Kalakaua in 1882. Yes, the gentlemen don the grass skirts, too.
A rousing finale shows hula's modern vitality, as the inspiration for modern competition and celebration.
No fire dances, no silly jokes, no Don Ho impersonators. Just a dedication to a unique theme and a professional cast realizing that creative vision.
Sound like something a dedicated theme park fan could get into, right?