Maui Theatre Brings Two World-Renowned Shows to Maui


Highly acclaimed artists John Stephan and Benise will join fan favorite ʻUlalena with daily shows in the Lahaina venue.

John Stephan Orbison's You Got It!

John Stephan performs Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii – Maui Theatre today announced the addition of two new shows to its entertainment schedule. You Got It! – a salute to Roy Orbison, starring award-winning singer/songwriter John Stephan, and The Spanish Guitar – a riveting Latin music and dance experience with Emmy Award Winning guitarist Benise, will begin in late June of this year.

Benise performs Spanish Guitar Maui Theatre

Benise and his Spanish Guitar

“We are very excited about these two world-class acts being a part of our Maui Theatre ‘ohana,” said General Manager Dennis Preussler. “By being able to offer ‘Ulalena, You Got It!, and The Spanish Guitar, we’ve added a whole new dimension of diversity to entertainment on the west side, for both visitors and local residents alike. Plus, all three shows will be hiring additional cast and crew members from right within our islands, so there will be new job opportunities available for our community.”

“Maui has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The local community is warm and inviting. I am excited to make Maui my new home!” said Australia’s John Stephan.

To accommodate the three Maui shows, Maui Theatre will now open its doors for two performances nightly, and one special matinee show on Mondays.  Weekly schedule is as follows and is subject to change:

  • ‘Ulalena: 6:30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • You Got It! with John Stephan: 6:30pm on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; 8:30pm on Friday
  • Benise – The Spanish Guitar: 8:30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Special matinee show featuring John Stephan and Benise: 2pm on Monday

Kama’aina rates will be available.

“We are very fortunate that the tremendous success of ‘Ulalena has laid the groundwork for Maui Theatre to be able to offer our venue to shows like this, and in turn, offer Maui and Hawaii some really amazing entertainment,” Preussler said.

More information about grand opening performance dates for You Got It! and The Spanish Guitar as well as various full- and part-time job openings for all three two shows will be released soon.

Dubbed “the voice from down under”, John Stephan has shared the stage with some of America’s finest artists including country music superstars Vince Gill, Randy Travis, Faith Hill and Kenny Chesney. He has written songs for the likes of Blake Shelton and Vince Gill. He has toured Australia, Japan, United States and Europe and performed at the Grand Ole Opry. His latest project, You Got It!, has also sold out shows around the world including in Las Vegas where it premiered in September 2012.

You Got It! celebrates a legend in American music history, Roy Orbison. It is the only show of it’s kind in the world. It entwines a very personal narrative of Roy’s intriguing yet tragic life with spoken word from Roy Orbison’s eldest son Wesley, and a live concert featuring John Stephan performing Orbison’s #1 hits and all-time classics including Pretty Woman, Crying, In Dreams, Blue Bayou, Only The Lonely, You Got It, I Drove All Night, and many more. For more information visit or

Benise (pronounced Buh-ness-say) is hailed as “The Prince of Spanish Guitar”. He is an Emmy Award winning musician and has performed for 24 million TV viewers on hugely popular Dancing with the Stars. From his beginnings as a street musician to selling out 2000-seat theaters, he performs original works with powerfully emotional arrangements that are both wild and refined, with a sound that is as edgy and exotic as it is romantic and sensual.

Benise’s newest production, The Spanish Guitar, is a theatrical music and dance spectacle that has been called “The Latin Riverdance”. It takes the audience on an unprecedented and epic adventure through Spanish Flamenco, Cuban Salsa, Argentinean Tango, Arabic, Waltz, and exotic drumming. The Spanish Guitar showcases classic songs from Led Zepplin, Queen, Bach, and The Eagles, to name a few. The addition of brilliant choreography and beautiful costumes makes this a family-friendly performance for fans of all ages. Los Angeles Daily News calls Benise a “fiery entertainer” and refers to The Spanish Guitar as “one of the most colorful shows of the season”. For more information visit,

‘Ulalena is an unparalleled Hawaiian theatrical production that has shared the rich cultural history of Maui and its people for almost 14 years. It was recently awarded a 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, placing it in the top performing 10% of all businesses worldwide, on the world’s largest travel site. The shows authentic depiction of the islands’ history combined with emotive music and dance, dazzling acrobatics and state-of-the-art light, sound and stage equipment invokes the sense and leaves the viewer wanting to know more about the islands’ culture and people.  It is a quintessential cultural experience for our islands’ visitors, and a touching homage to Hawaiian peoples that Hawaii residents can truly take pride in. For more information visit

High-resolution images available upon request.

For tickets or more information, call (808) 856-7900.

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Maui Theatre Job Fair

Do you love what you do? Do you want to be a part of a fun, talented, creative team? Here’s your chance!
Maui Job Fair

Maui Theatre is holding a job fair this Friday, May 31st and Saturday, June 1st to hire for various positions within the Theatre and the ʻUlalena cast and crew. Don’t miss this opportunity to do something you love, every day!

Job Fair at Maui Theatre
Friday, 5/31/13
Saturday, 6/1/13
10am – 4pm
Don’t forget to bring your resume!

Positions Available:

Male and Female Cast Members*
PT Accounting
PT Ushers
PT Concessions
PT Reservations
PT Host/ Hostess
FT/PT Sales
FT Techs

*REQUIREMENTS AND QUALIFICATIONS FOR CAST MEMBERS: Desired skills include but are not limited to: hula dancing, chanting, singing and acting.  Must be able to perform in front of a crowd, have an energetic personality, good attitude, and are outgoing and reliable.  Passion, motivation and willingness to step outside of the box are a must! Please bring resume and/or headshot.

Questions? Call (808) 661-9913 or email

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“Na Hoku”– Treasures of the Late Summer Sky

In Hawai’i, we are lucky to have such breathtaking views of the night sky. There are not many places left on earth to view the heavens without the after-glow of artificial light in our way. Experts agree, as many of the world’s leading astronomers make their home atop the mountains of Maui and the Big Island.

For the ancient Hawaiians, the stars were interwoven into their mythology, used to voyage great distances across the Pacific, and held the calendar of events during each season. The time to harvest, plant, fish, and hunt were all held in the night sky.

Ancient Hawaiians adhered to a Lunar Calendar which held cutural and religious guidelines.

August holds a plethora of starry “treasures”, from the Perseid Meteor shower last weekend, the spectacular pairing of Jupiter and Venus in the early morning, to the appearance of the Zodiacal Light.

Zodiacal Light as seen in Colorado. Best viewing times are before dawn, and right after dusk. Photo courtesy of:

To this day, there are a special few who continue to uphold the traditions of old. Voyaging Canoe societies, farmers, and other cultural practitioners use the knowledge of their ancestors to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.

The Hokule'a, a famous voyaging canoe where sailors navigate across the Pacific using ancient astronomical techniques. Photo courtesy: northwesthawaiitimes.jpg

For those who are simply curious star-gazers wishing to learn more about the beauty above us, here are some handy websites to get you started:

Polynesian Voyaging Society : Learn more about the ancient Polynesian mastery of the stars. :  A great site to learn all about the astronomical happenings of the week.

Astronomy Picture of the Day: NASA website offers a great way to learn about the cosmos. Features an amazing picture or video of the day, with explanations and insight.

Hawaiian Moon Calendar: Learn about the phases of the moon, and its relation to fishing, planting, harvesting, and Hawaiian religious observation.

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‘Ulalena Videos

Coming to the show and want some background information on the characters and story you’re about to see? Saw the show and want to better understand and learn more about what you just saw? Already seen the show and know about the story but want to learn even more?? Take a minute and watch some great videos by Dave Barry, all about the characters, story, and culture surrounding the ‘Ulalena show!

‘Ulalena Character Playlist on YouTube

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The Legend of Haloa, Taro

Taro Plant

Taro Plant

‘Ulalena features a variety of Hawaiian gods and legends.  One of these very crucial, but somewhat looked over legends is that of Haloa, the child of Wakea (Father Heaven) and Ho’ohokukalai (the stars).  Haloa is symbolized by the Taro plant, and represents the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people. 

Before the elder, stronger Haloa, Ho’ohokukalai birthed an unhealthy and deformed child also named Haloa, who died at birth.  This infant was buried, and a taro plant grew from it.  The elder Haloa, is embodied by the taro plant, and the “elder brother” of all Hawaiians.  He reflects the overall health and strength of the Hawaiian people and culture.

In ‘Ulalena, Haloa or Taro, is followed throughout the show, and represented by the green-clothed character carrying the staff.  After Haloa is born in the first scene he is strong and vibrant, just as the Hawaiian people were at the time. 

As the show goes on and the spirit of the Hawaiian culture is suffering from disease, guns, and other things brought by European colonialists, Haloa’s health also dwindles. 

The conclusion of ‘Ulalena represents the renaissance of Hawaiian culture – the revitalization of its people and culture.  This is portrayed as the ‘Ulalena rain showers over Haloa, and he is brought back to life; just like Hawaii as a whole.

The Taro plant, or Kalo in Hawaiian, is a base of the Hawaiian culture.  It is not only important from a mythological standpoint, but Taro farming was a Hawaiian staple.  The plant was and is still used for making poi, taro chips, and the leaves are used in luaus as well.  Haloa was the root of life as the original Hawaiian descendant, but was also the root of life as a source of sustenance for the Hawaiian people. 

There are many legends incorporated into ‘Ulalena.  Although it is not necessary to understand all of these legends to enjoy the show, it definitely helps the viewer to better appreciate the story.  The legend of Haloa, or Taro, is one of the key myths to the ‘Ulalena storyline.

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The Sound of Healing

Everyone has a gift or talent. However, not everyone chooses to embrace and master that talent to its full potential. The cast and crew of ‘Ulalena are all masters of their talents, and because of that, have made the show the success that it is today. One of these masters of his craft is ‘Ulalena musician, Anthony Natividad.

You may recognize him in the show as the guy playing the flute… with his nose! Working for ‘Ulalena since it first opened, Anthony still remembers being the only musician at the first practice on April 19, 1999. His craft goes beyond simply performing as a member of the incredibly talented ‘Ulalena band. He truly helps define the Aloha Spirit and the cultural ideals ‘Ulalena represents. Listening to him talk is like listening to someone read a book of inspirational and spiritual quotes. His positivity and genuine care for all things Hawaii and beyond are infectious. He can make a playable nose flute in only a few minutes – I’m assuming if there was a record for that, he would have it.

You can always find him at local festivals and events sharing both his musical talents and cultural wisdom.  He can play multiple different instruments, admittedly having “More [instruments] than I can play in a day,” around his house: ukuleles, guitars, drums, flutes, and all of the “kahiko” instruments (ancient Hawaiian), to name a few.  Two tracks off of his album have been featured in films; one in the Hollywood hit, The Descendants, and one in a PBS film.  Playing for both entertainment and healing purposes, Anthony also practices sound therapy.

Using the healing power of sound, anything from physical ailments to mental stressors can be addressed.  “I’ve heard all kinds of different experiences,” Anthony said.  “One person claims it healed his back pain.  Others have had complete out of body experiences.”

I was fortunate enough to personally experience a session of sound therapy, and while I can’t say I had a total out of body trip, I did leave very refreshed and mentally clear.  Both Anthony’s musical talents and deep spirituality combine to allow him to practice this art form.  A homemade didgeridoo, homemade nose flute, and Tibetan brass bowls are used simultaneously to create the therapeutic music experience.  (If ‘Ulalena’s musical presentation itself is not therapeutic enough!)

Anthony is a proud husband and father.  Born and raised here, he and his wife of 23 years have been together since high school.  Their daughter is on track to be just as successful and cultured, starting at Tokai University in Honolulu this Fall, to study Asian Studies.

Even with all of the organizations and activities Anthony is involved in, he continues to be a major part of the ‘Ulalena Ohana.  He believes the genuine uniqueness of the show as a whole sets it apart from others.  “It’s not afraid to show the not happy side to the history,” he said.  “The story is a world issue.  It’s not just Hawaii,” he continued.  “The same story has happened around the world.” 

The caliber of the performers and people involved with ‘Ulalena are what make the show truly special, according to Anthony.  “They are the best of the best,” he said.   They know they are representing not just the culture, but also the original cast members, the current team, their ancestors, and the island of Maui as a whole.

For some people sleep is an option, and that is definitely the case with Anthony.  Where he finds the time to do all he does, for so many different people, is still a mystery to me.  He takes full advantage of every second of every day.  It is obvious that his spirituality is directly reflected in the strong cultural and spiritual depth of ‘Ulalena.  He doesn’t just play for the audience he said, “I’m playing for souls.”

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Maui Theatre: Hosting the Keiki

Maui Theatre is not only home to ‘Ulalena, but the theatre also hosts other performances and groups.  Recently, the theatre hosted the Alexander Academy of Performing Arts’ production of “Peter Pan.”  The ballet was hosted April 14th and 15th, and was a huge success.  The ballet featured an amazing 160 cast members!  Their ages ranged from 3 years old to 18 years old, with some teachers even getting in on the action as well!  Last year the group had another successful production, “Mary Poppins.”  Every show the academy does here almost sells out.  Maui Theatre is proud to help provide Maui’s youth with an opportunity to perform on such a big stage.  Maybe someday these young performers will be part of the ‘Ulalena cast!

Peter Pan curtain call

Alexander Academy of Performing Arts "Peter Pan"

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Huaka’i to Hanaula

The ‘Ulalena Ohana’s commitment to Hawaiian culture goes beyond the show and the singing and dancing.  It means giving back and taking care of the ‘aina.  Recently, ‘Ulalena cast and crew members took a huaka’i (trip) to Hanaula, where they got their hands dirty, supporting the local non-profit organization Maui Cultural Lands.

The team helps clean the land by pulling weeds invasive to the ohi’a lehua, and planting a’ali’i plants, along with more ohi’a lehua.

The caretakers of the land, the Lindsey Ohana, rely on the help and charity of individuals like the ‘Ulalena cast and crew, to maintain the beautiful ancient countryside of the island.  More information about the non-profit Maui Cultural Lands can be found by visiting

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Valerye Huff: Learning the Lifestyle

valeryeAs I’ve said before, ‘Ulalena’s cast and crew are more than coworkers; they are a family – an ohana.  They love each other, just like they love the ‘Ulalena show and story itself.  Their knowledge of the Hawaiian culture and passion to learn even more is truly infectious.  Being the new addition to the group has been both challenging and fun.

I, unlike the great majority of the cast and crew, am from the mainland and am a relative maui newcomer, living here for two years.  Although, I visited the island many times growing up, my familiarity with the culture and language was still very limited.  I just like most audience members and fans of ‘Ulalena am still learning about the basics of the culture.  However, now as part of the ‘Ulalena team, I couldn’t have a better group of people to teach me.  Every day I learn something new about the show, the culture, and the ‘Ulalena Ohana.  Since starting with ‘Ulalena a little over a month ago, I have learned more about Maui and Hawaii than I’ve learned in my entire 23 years of existence prior.  Starting with just seeing the show multiple times, each time understanding the story more and more, to the weekly Hawaiian language classes with the cast taught by Kipe – I am on Hawaiian culture overload, but in a great way!

As a part of the cast and crew blog features, I thought it would be a good idea to let you know a little bit about myself, the girl behind the social media, since you’ll get the chance to follow my personal journey of immersion into the Hawaiian culture.

Growing up in Washington state, I visited Maui a lot, but never expected to move here.  However, after graduating from Washington State University in May 2010, I had sunshine and aloha on my mind and moved to Maui, jobless and friendless, hoping for the best.  So far so good – almost two years later and I’m still here and still loving it.

I’ve always loved learning and being a student, so I’ve truly enjoyed the challenge of learning about the Hawaiian culture since joining ‘Ulalena.  While I do enjoy the challenge, for the first time in my life I feel like THAT kid in class; the one that always tries hard, but still seems extra confused.  Weekly Hawaiian language class is always interesting, but wow, Hawaiian is about 100 times more difficult to learn than Spanish.  It’s not just a language, it’s a way of speaking.  Learning such an ancient language and culture has been a humbling experience.

Every Facebook update, Tweet, and blog post, requires some sort of research on my end.  For what might be common knowledge to those born and raised on Maui, is new and interesting knowledge for myself, the majority of the time.  I really try to information that I myself find interesting and worth knowing.

All in all, the point of this blog post isn’t to tell you how proud you should be of what I’m trying to learn;  I just want you to know where I’m coming from.  If you’re new to the Hawaiian culture like me, then learn with me on my quest of cultural understanding.  If you’re already a Hawaiian culture guru, then enjoy watching (and feel free to help) the learning take place!


Fun Facts about me, Valerye:

I love tiedye, basketball, running, music, and the Seattle Supersonics.   I used to be a radio DJ in college.  My hometown is a lavender mecca, and my first job was at a lavender farm – if you want to know anything about lavender, I most likely know the answer.

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Maya Iida & Her Journey to Becoming an Acrobat

Excited and healthy, ‘Ulalena’s Maya Iida will be making her acrobat debut this week!  A Maui native, originally from Kahului, Maya appeared in her first ‘Ulalena show on January 2nd, 2012, as “Haloa,” the first ancestor to the Hawaiians.  Beginning acrobatic training in July 2011, Maya’s journey to making her aerialist debut has been just that, a journey.

Maya has been recovering from a major injury she suffered while training to become an acrobat.  She broke three bones in her left hand, requiring her to put her training on the back burner while she focused on rest and recovery.  According to Maya the most difficult part of recovery was rebuilding her upper body strength.  “I remember joking with my trainer, Kim Breitbach, that I wished I could buy my muscles at the store!” Maya said.  “Without the help of Kim, who has always pushed me to succeed, my recovery would have been so much more difficult.”

Now stronger than ever, Maya will get to see her hard work and training pay off in her acrobatic debut as “Laka,” the lizard guardian of the waterfall, as well as “Navigator,” and “Hina,” goddess of the moon.

This former Miss Maui, definitely keeps herself busy.  Between ‘Ulalena, teaching, and dancing, I was lucky enough to steal a few minutes of Maya’s time for a little question and answer session, to get to know her “off the stage.”

What roles do you play in the show? What is your favorite to perform?
So far I have played the role of “Haloa,” “Daughter,” the younger sister of the Ali’i, and the “baby tree.”  I will soon debut as “Laka,” the lizard guardian of the waterfall, “Navigator,” and “Hina,” goddess of the moon.  Of the roles I have performed so far my favorite is “Haloa.”  Performing that part allowed me to share my love of modern dance.

How long have you been dancing?
I have been dancing for 10 years.  I began my training at the Maui Academy of Performing Arts and continued through the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  As a Rainbow Dancer at UH Manoa, I even got to perform at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  My favorite style of dance is lyrical.  I feel it matches my personality best and is the style I hope to bring to my acrobatic roles.

What makes ‘Ulalena different than other dance productions you have been a part of?
Besides the longevity of this show, ‘Ulalena is different from other dance productions because the show emphasizes collective rather than individual talent.  The Hawaiian culture itself is at the core and is highlighted above all performers.

Other than Miss Maui, what other pageants have you done?
In 2010 I won the Miss Downtown Honolulu title.  It was the first title I won and the first year I entered pageants.  In 2011 I won the Miss Maui title.  It was an honor to represent Maui in the state pageant and place 4th runner up and win the academic award.

What kind of future goals do you have?
I have a passion for educating our youth.  Currently, I am an elementary school substitute teacher.  ‘Ulalena has always strived to incorporate our children as part of our community outreach with the show.  As an educator with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, I hope to one day contribute toward this wonderful partnership.

Why do you think people should see ‘Ulalena?
For residents, ‘Ulalena is a reminder of all that is at the heart of our island home.  For visitors, ‘Ulalena shares a story that will transport them across time and history through chants, dance, and language.  When they return to the present moment and go on with their lives, the spirit of ‘Ulalena will remain with them.

What is your favorite memory of being part of the ‘Ulalena Ohana?
My favorite moment of being part of the ‘Ulalena family was being invited up on stage to join in the daily circle for the first time.  It was an honor to be hand in hand with such talented performers.

If you had to make a tagline for ‘Ulalena, what would it be?
‘Ulalena: from sky to earth, from past to present, from us to you.

The youngest of five children, Maya admits to being very shy growing up.  “I hid in my school classroom from guest speakers like police officers or school photographers,” she said.  “When my 8th grade teacher suggested I try out for a musical with the Maui Academy of Performing Arts, she changed my life.”  Obviously Maya has come a long way since then.  That 8th grade teacher not only changed Maya’s life, but also the lives of her ‘Ulalena Ohana, and audience members – all of whom get the chance to see her passion and talent light up the ‘Ulalena stage.

Come see and support Maya in her acrobat debut this week!  Reserve tickets online at or call 808-856-7900.

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