Tuesdays through Saturdays, 4:45-7:30pm
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, 2525 Kaanapali Pkwy., Lahaina
667-00128 / (toll free) 1-800-262-8450; kupanaha.com / kbhmaui.com
$89 Golden Circle (front row) / $79 general / $55 young adults (13-to 20-year-olds) / $39 keiki (six-to 12-year-olds) / complimentary for keiki 5-years-old or younger
We live in a world where the only sure things are death and taxes; hard knocks, deadlines and gravity. Perhaps that’s why magic is so alluring. It’s the chance to submit to illusionists’ sway and allow our disbelief the reprieve of suspension.
The Baran ‘ohana—the renowned mom and pop illusionists (and their keiki!) behind the new-and-improved Kupanaha magic show—aim to guide locals and visitors alike as they journey into a realm where a magic man can make a great escape Houdini style, and lovely ladies are levitated or sawed in-half, much to their own delight. (Oh, and the show’s augmented by an omnomnom KBH dinner and Mai Tais—which sure doesn’t hurt.)
Helmed by Jody Baran and his wife Kathleen—alongside their kids Crystal, Katrina and Robert—the Kupanaha show is produced by a family, for families. Chicago-born, Jody says he began performing at the tender age of five, receiving his first award for magic by the age of 10, and by 16 had a full-time career in show business. Calling it “proof that magic can transport you,” he traveled the world honing his craft (while earning chops with the likes of Disney and Six Flags), and has entertained “a who’s who” roster of celebrities and even heads of state.
When Jody “fell for the magic of Kathleen [Pomeroy],” he says it was “love at first sight.” Kathleen is a lifelong dancer and So-Cal native, who was “enchanted [by] the world of magic” in her teens.
“In a classic case of life imitating art,” Jody and Kathleen married, and their burgeoning ‘ohana has performed together “night after night” for more than a decade. While many of us can barely manage a disengaged TV dinner without bickering, you’ve gotta admit their love and commitment—evident onstage—is the real magic.
Both heartwarming and hilarious, the updated show debuted this April—hallmarking its impressive 2,500th performance—in the intimate 180-seat Kanahele Showroom. Balancing the miraculousness of magic, what’s unique about the Baran family’s production is that it incorporates the myths and legends of old and new Hawaii, including historical references to some of the world’s most famous magicians who made their merry way to the isles in the “glory days of yore.” Stage design is made spectacular using many of the vintage images of the day, and true to magic show tradition, is a suit vest and sequined spectacle.
Further, with the authentic articulations of the Kupanaha Dancers under the direction of kumu hula Dal Aricayos, the show aims to “express the magic of Hawaiian demigods through song, chant and dance.” Aricayos’ vision is to “share the accuracy of [Hawaii’s] legends and stories” as “people are sometimes misled without enough information.”
It’s classic magic meets ancient mysticism (appropriately at “Hawaii’s most Hawaiian hotel”), with a lovable ‘ohana eager and able to entertain. The showroom is drenched in a sparkling, night sky motif and during the dinner service—kalua pork and grilled vegetable bruschetta pupus, entrees of fish, chicken, steak or tofu, plus pina colada cheesecake for dessert—the show starts early with table-side magic.
So if the drudgery of Muggledom (sorry) has got you aching for augury, look no further than Kupanaha. It’s wholesome and hysterical, mystical and cultural; everything you’d expect a magic show to be—and then some. ■