warren & annabelle’s… “oh, oh, oh it’s magic”

The Maui Concierge Magazine _ Warren & Annabelle's MagicIf seeing truly is believing, Warren & Annabelle’s magic show will make a believer out of you after just the first of many masterfully executed tricks. You’ll laugh so hard you’ll cry during this hugely entertaining two hours of comedy, amazing magic, and just plain good fun.

Established in 1999 by highly acclaimed sleight-of-hand magician Warren Gibson and his wife, Lisa, Warren & Annabelle’s has become one of the most popular shows on Maui and, according to their website, every night is a sell-out. “It’s been an amazing adventure since our first year,” Warren says. “I think one of the biggest surprises about this show is the number of repeat guests we have. We have folks who come back for their 6th, 10th or 16th time!”

My friend Janet and I are on the Royal Flush package ($94.50 per person), which includes the show, two premium cocktails, combination platter of gourmet appetizers, dessert, and server gratuity. The other option is “show only” ($56 per person), with food and cocktails available for purchase a la carte.

The evening begins with check-in. Be sure to bring your ID as everyone, regardless of age, must show proof of being over 21 in order to comply with Maui’s strict liquor laws. Janet and I are ushered, along with three other pairs, into Annabelle’s “secret chamber,” where I am handed a special key, and we have to work together as a group to gain access to Annabelle’s parlor.

Who is Annabelle, you ask? Annabelle is the show’s resident ghost. Warren has this story to tell about Annabelle: “Shortly before opening [the show], I was in the theater rehearsing when I thought I heard music coming from the parlor. I ignored it, thinking it was my mind playing tricks on me, and went back to my rehearsal. A few minutes later I heard the music again and decided to investigate. As I walked down the steps into the parlor, the music grew louder…suddenly, I noticed a ghostly apparition seated at the piano. I was stunned, but oddly enough not afraid. As I approached the piano, the apparition turned to me and introduced herself. She said her name was Annabelle and began to tell me her story.”

Turns out Annabelle Mason and her fiancé John Ford, a brave whaling captain, lived in Lahaina in the mid-1800s. After receiving word that John’s ship had been lost at sea, Annabelle played John’s favorite melody on her piano day and night hoping for his return. She eventually wasted away, alone and broken-hearted at her piano.

Annabelle’s baby grand piano sits prominently in the middle of the elegantly appointed parlor where Janet and I, along with the other guests, are seated to enjoy our cocktails and food. Mainland guests will feel right at home in this distinctly “clubby” atmosphere that has several different seating areas. Generous use of tapestry fabric and wallpaper in a faux bookcase pattern contribute a rich feeling. Draperies and tablecloths fashioned from a flowered Hawaiian print in shades of teal, tan, burgundy, and yellow, along with mixed tropical bouquets on the tables, remind you you’re still in the Islands.

Our server, Tara, tells us we can choose a signature cocktail from the menu or another selection from the full bar. Signature cocktails have clever names like Warren’s Wit & Wisdom, Annabelle’s Apparition, Captain Ford’s Folly, and Maui Madness. Since Janet and I are both Lemon Drop fans, we order one for each of us. Nightclub music at just the right volume for carrying on a conversation plays in the background. Tara brings our huge combination appetizer plate, and it’s plenty of food to satisfy both of our appetites. Shrimp dipped in coconut batter, rolled in coconut flakes, fried, and served with ponzu dipping sauce; spicy crab cakes cooked golden brown and served with sweet chili plum sauce; chicken satay skewered and marinated in spicy Thai peanut sauce; and kalua pork tostada served with tropical pineapple-mango salsa in a corn tortilla shell; all resting on a bed of fresh and tasty Kula greens. Yum!

While everyone is drinking and munching away, Chad, our handsome and charming host for the evening, announces that the “invisible” Annabelle is ready for song requests from the audience. The requests are diverse: “Deep Purple,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “The Entertainer,” and others. Part of the evening’s magic is how quickly Annabelle begins playing the song on her piano after the request is shouted out. Janet and I devour our desserts—for her the key lime pie, and for myself the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Other tempting choices include chocolate truffle cake, hot apple pie, and crème brulee.

Soon Chad announces “it’s showtime!” and we file into the intimate 78-seat theater. Be sure to heed the advice you’re given to bring a sweater or wrap—it’s quite chilly in there. When Warren is performing, he does the entire two-hour show himself. Other nights, featured performers take center stage. “When we were building this place, I imagined having a magic theater where top notch close-up and comic magicians from around the country could come and perform,” says Warren. “And now, we have two of the best sleight-of-hand magicians and two of the best comic magicians in the country coming to Maui four to five times a year. I am so thrilled to have these guys performing at Warren & Annabelle’s.”

This evening, the show is opened by John Shryock, whose 300-watt smile and boy-next-door good looks captivate you instantly. Oh yeah…let’s not forget his sleight-of-hand tricks are absolutely amazing! He tells us this form of magic is his favorite. “I love taking an ordinary object and causing it to do something magical,” he says.

From cards and coins, to his beautiful rope trick accompanied by Enya’s song “Orinoco Flow” (a.k.a. “Sail Away”), to his utterly mind-blowing shredded newspaper trick, John keeps us absolutely spellbound for an entire hour. “At home [on the Mainland] I do a bigger show along with my wife. I cut her in half and make her disappear…she still loves me,” he quips.

Performing the second hour is comic magician Dana Daniels, along with his mind-reading rubber chicken Dwayne. When a volunteer from the audience “disagrees” with Dwayne over which card is on top of the deck, Dana deadpans, “obviously one of you is lying.” Dana is a hilarious cross between Steve Martin, Richard Nixon, and Ed Sullivan. During a brief moment of silence (or maybe it was awe) after his incredible dental floss trick, this one-liner nearly brings down the house: “There’s two ways to do these tricks…with applause, or the way we’re doing it.”

Dana demonstrates his juggling prowess with a particularly impressive sequence, and closes out his hour with an astonishing trick in which all rows, columns, diagonals, and squares on his chart add up to the same number. Unbelievable!

Warren & Annabelle’s has two seatings Monday-Saturday: 5 and 7:30 p.m. Admission for concierges and veterans is complimentary (bring your concierge card from our inside back cover); half price for active military. You must be at least 21 years or older. For reservations: (808) 667-MAGIC (6244). For a schedule of preformers, please visit http://www.warrenandannabelles.com.

– by heidi pool

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