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Hawaii may be thousands of miles from big-time broadways in New York or major stage performances abroad, but we are still lucky enough to get our share of theater year after year. To date, there have been more than a dozen different shows that return to either the Neil Blaisdell Center or Hawaii Theatre – attracting hundreds to their doors each time.
Some of the major broadways to make a stop in Hawaii included: Phantom of the Opera, Blue Man Group, Wicked, Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles, CATS and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Lion King. The shows usually stay for a two-to-three month period, selling out almost every show; but the hype always starts before they arrive – with tons of publicity building up for their big debut. Many times, performers and directors appear on local morning news shows or radio talk shows to get people excited.
Thanks to an organization called Broadway in Hawaii, these shows are made possible for the state. The group, which is part of the national MagicSpace Entertainment, has helped promote and organize the previously mentioned shows since 1999. Most recently, the Hawaiian debut of Riverdance and sold-out engagement of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast took Honolulu by storm, while CATS had been one of the hottest family shows during the holidays. In addition, the show also served as a fundraiser for Kapiolani Medical Center, a local charity effort.
I feel so blessed to have seen many of the major broadways and shows that have passed through our state. We watched the clowns of Quidam goof around the stage at Blaisdell, while the witches of Wicked took flight in front of a packed audience. I especially loved the nostalgic song renditions from the Disney’s Lion King; so cool to see it live, versus the VHS tape I would watch over and over as a kid. I found myself humming and tapping along to the beat of the songs, reliving some of my favorite childhood memories.
The venues – Blaisdell and Hawaii Theatre – are perhaps Hawaii’s best options for broadway. The set up makes for great acoustics, while the stage space and setting are pretty impressive for an island rendition of major performances. I would imagine that the shows’ directors would have to reconfigure things here and there to ensure everything fits perfectly on stage. Come to think of it, certain scenes from the Lion King seemed a bit squishy for the Blaisdell stage. Specifically, the part when all of the animals gather on stage for the welcoming of Simba, the newest baby lion cub.
If you are interested in catching a broadway performance while in Hawaii, visit www.honolulu-theatre.com or follow @BroadwayHawaii on Twitter. They will be your go-to place on the web for musicals, family shows, stand-up, cirque and dance to hit the islands.