Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, April 6, 2001

Sean Juan Remos channels the spirit of Ricky Martin
in the "Aloha Las Vegas" revue.

Just for kitsch

Impersonator revue showcases
new and returning talent

By John Berger

Hawaii resta- rateur Spence Weaver believed in getting the most use possible out of his restaurants. Most had cocktail lounges that remained open after food service was pau; three of the biggest -- the Tiki, the Beef & Grog, and Mike's -- stayed open till 4 a.m. nightly as "cabaret" nightclubs.

The new Aloha Las Vegas Revue at the Waikiki Beachcomber was created in the same spirit: John Hirokawa uses his "Magic of Polynesia" showroom for only a few hours each day. Why not present an entirely different show before and after Hirokawa's?


In concert: 3 and 10:15 p.m. (cocktail show seating at 2:30 and 10) Tuesdays through Sundays
Place: Magic of Polynesia Showroom, Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel. Call: 971-4345
Cost: $35, buy-one-get-one-free through April 30. A late show buffet dinner package is $55 per person (seating in the Hibiscus Cafe at 8:30)

There's been no big-scale celebrity impersonator show in Waikiki since "Legends in Concert" shut down. Now there is. "Aloha Las Vegas" opened without formal announcement several months ago. Several "Legends" alumni provide continuity and star power.

>> What's good: Legends vet Bobby Brooks is world-class in all respects as Jackie Wilson and deserves more time on stage. Tommy D, also from "Legends," is adding a little understated comic content to his portrayal of Roy Orbison. Tunui Tully, the show's new director/choreographer, uses his six female dancers as a integral part of the cast's performances and seems to be developing them as supporting characters.

>> What's different: Ginai presides as the resident hostess in addition to performing as Whitney Houston; she introduces each of her co-stars from a different location in Hirokawa's large showroom. A personable live band gives ALV more of an old-time pure rock sound than Legends had.

>> What should go: A "Which side of the room can yell louder?" bit by Ginai and Sean Juan (Ricky Martin). Ginai's impression of Charo should either be taken to the point of total caricature or dropped. And, since the audience knows that Chris Taylor isn't really Elvis, he should follow the example of Jonathan Von Brana and not speak of Elvis in the first person.

Not to pick on Taylor, who is certainly quite serviceable otherwise as the show's opening act, but changing the lyrics to "Viva Las Vegas" is a bad idea.

Brooks also appears as Stevie Wonder. Ginai is impressive as always as Houston and makes "I Will Always Love You" the searing show-stopper it should be.

More shaking going on with Chris Taylor as
Elvis Presley, complete with glitter and glamorous girls.

Sally "Kalei" Davis does nicely as Celine Dion and better as Shania Twain. Juan captures the on-stage ambiance of Martin, and Jade Glover and Bernadette Bayot provide solid support to one and all as all-purpose backing vocalists.

Bruno Hernandez closes the show as Michael Jackson. He's been seen in several smaller shows in recent years and has become more impressive with each production. He stars here in an ambitious segment that opens with a Jackson 5 medley (four of Tully's dancers perform as Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon), and continues with "Thriller" and "Billie Jean."

Bruno Hernandez burns up the stage floor with
Michael Jackson-like moves in the Aloha Las
Vegas Revue at the Waikiki Beachcomber hotel.

Hernandez has the moves and all the stage presence necessary to play the role here. He is clearly on track to become a major multi-faceted entertainer in his own right.

That said, the Jackson segment needs work. There needs to be something happening on stage while Hernandez is changing costumes. Once Tully and his dancers add that "something" to Hernandez' performance, the number will be a killer.

The bottom line: The cast has talent and most of them have years of experience as celebrity impressionists. Hernandez is still in high school but made his debut as "The World's Youngest Elvis" as a pre-schooler. The opening show I saw needed tweaking. With the special two-for-one deal in effect through the end of April, it's worth considering.

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