The Rock-A Hula Show Is Waikiki’s Hidden Gem

Would you like to visit one of Hawaii’s best live shows? Then I highly recommend the Rock-A-Hula show on Oahu, which is probably Waikiki’s best-kept secret. In all my years of traveling to Hawaii, I never see it advertised or promoted, but it is so wonderfully entertaining that you’ve just got to give it a go. It even features two Kings – Elvis, The King, and The King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Yes, when you’re on Oahu you must, must visit Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head, you must dine at Duke’s on Waikiki, you must check out the North Shore surfing – and you absolutely must visit Rock-A-Hula. It’s that good, and memorable. What a fun night! Here’s where you’ll catch a wave of excitement in paradise.

The show consists of the Rock-A-Hula live orchestra, hula dancers, singers, a terrific Elvis impersonator named Johnny Fortuno, and much more, who all convey the history of Hawaii and travel starting in the Twenties through current days. The show starts with vintage photos and newsreels showcasing historic Boat Days, with excellent footage on the two big screens, while hula dancers give a lively performance. My favorite part of the show covered the Fifties, with wonderful vintage movie posters showing some of the famous movies that were shot in Hawaii – including Blue Hawaii, South Pacific, and From Here To Eternity.

The hula dancers, accompanied by the live Rock-A-Hula orchestra, frequently change costumes, and the joy that they emit is wildly contagious. Typically, male and female hula dancers frequently yell out, shout, and make loud noises while they are performing – and the chorus here is no exception, whether they’re performing to “My Little Grass Shack,” or “Aloha Oe,” probably the most famous Hawaiian song ever (which was written by Hawaii’s incomparable Queen Lili’uokalani when she was imprisoned at Iolani Palace).

And yes, there is even a fire dancer.

Of course, what would Hawaii be without Elvis? A terrific impersonator named Johnny Fortuno has several costume changes, including one outfit that is the white “American Eagle” jumpsuit that The King wore in his 1973 Hawaii special on TV, broadcast by satellite to one of the largest audiences ever, at the time. Mr. Fortuno bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis, complete with jet-black hair, a chiseled handsome face, and the “stock size” Elvis jumpsuit that he wears will have you do a double-take. Mr. Fortuno has been impersonating Elvis here for the past 11 years, and he has nailed it all, right down to the voice, and the moves, especially the karate-chop when songs are finished. Many times, while he is singing, the screens light up with actual scenes from Elvis’ movies, showcasing him in various locales in Hawaii.

And here is something else.

In fact, in the lobby after the show, there is a small display of one of the actual receipts from Hollywood’s IC Costume company, in the amount of $5,190 for several jumpsuits and silk scarves, signed by Vernon Presley, Elvis’ father, on January 24, 1973. Fascinating!

Other highlights of the show include the beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” by the late performer Iz, and Tahitian dancers performing the tamure local dance, which is, hands down (and up too) the sexiest dance ever. The dance’s goal is to replicate birds mating in flight, and all the joyous gyrating is done to pounding, pounding, pounding drums. Another highlight is another King – of Pop — a Michael Jackson impersonator performing a lot of hits – and he’s got the look and the moonwalking down pat.

After the show there is a wonderful “meet-and-greet” of the cast in the lobby, where you can take photos.

I strongly suggest you buy tickets for the dinner show. You’ll receive an excellent and artfully presented four-course dinner, featuring a lobster-and-goat-cheese salad, beef tenderloin and swordfish, and pineapple gelato with coconut macarons. The chef here is from France, and it shows.

The VIP tickets ($151pp) include party pupus and mai tais at the VIP Lounge reception, then a dinner and the show at your own private stageside table. The luau show costs $113pp, and has seats on the mezzanine.

It’s all the perfect exclamation point to your stay in paradise.

For more about y Wanderlust Travels, please Follow me on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.

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