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The melding of magic and traditional Polynesian flame-twirling might seem peculiar. Until, that is, you’re watching some guy spinning a flaming baton as fast as a roulette wheel and mutter to yourself, “How does he do that?”

That same question arises during any good illusionist show, and Magic of Polynesia in Honolulu is most definitely good — very good.

It’s a pity the same can’t be said for the basic dinner, a pedestrian plate of food carrying the highly inflated price of $38 over the basic show price. The dish of teriyaki chicken, boneless beef ribs, broccoli and mashed potatoes possessed all the hallmarks of the institutional food you’ll find at a military base mess hall or nursing home.

You might fare better with the deluxe meal/show package, which is $76 over the basic show price and offers “preferred” seating. That meal includes a lettuce salad with brie, hearts of palm and beets, charbroiled filet mignon and half a lobster. No one in our small group had that, nor were we seated close enough to those who did to overhear any oohs and aahs of satisfaction.

My advice is go for the magic show alone, which ends around 7:30 and leaves you plenty of time to find dinner somewhere else on Waikiki.

You won’t find a magic show like this anywhere else on Oahu, or in Hawaii, for that matter.

Magic of Polynesia takes place in a cavernous space in the Waikiki Beach Holiday Inn. Much of the wall space has been made over with faux rocky peaks and cliffs to give it a volcanic island feel — but made eerie with colored lights. The stage is immense, as it would need to be to fit things like helicopters and Lamborghinis into the act.

During the short time between dinner and the show’s start, several magicians walked among the tables, wowing diners with small-scale tricks.

A magician who introduced himself as Sparky stopped at my table. I told him card tricks are my favorite, and he quickly whipped out a deck and performed the “card warp” trick, in which one card appeared to reverse sides. He also showed me how the trick was done, and it’s a credit to his showmanship that even though he revealed the secret, I still couldn’t see how it was done.

Magic of Polynesia was created by John Hirokawa, who usually headlines the act, but has two other magicians substitute on his nights off. On the Sunday I attended, the top slot was filled by Michael Villoria, a deeply tanned man with a Cheshire Cat smile.

Interspersed throughout the act were performances by Polynesian dancers and flame twirlers. The primary twirler, a mountain of a man, doubled as a dancer with the troupe, whose series of costume changes seemed magical in itself.

I started to take photos when the show began, but was quickly told that photography and video were not allowed.

Villoria hit the stage and wasted no time in pulling out the big guns, making a full-size helicopter appear before the audience. Here would be the opportune time to admit that I have no answer to my repeated question, “How did he do that?”

I don’t know how he made a white Lamborghini rise into the air, then disappear. I don’t know how he made his lovely female assistant rise up and then disintegrate into confetti. I don’t know how he made her appear in an empty box suspended over the stage.

The only thing I know for sure from the roughly 90-minute show was that the flurry of snowflakes that fell over the entire auditorium in his finale wasn’t snow. It was some kind of white foam that looked stunningly like snow.

And when the lights were turned up, the “snow” was gone, as was Villoria.

olson.wyatt@stripes.com Twitter: @WyattWOlson

Magic of Polynesia

Address: 2300 Kalakaua Ave.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Directions: The show is in the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort, which is on Kalakaua Avenue, the nearest street running parallel to the beach. Check in for the show at the hotel’s second-floor lobby.

Admission: If booked online: Deluxe dinner show $127 for adults, $67.50 ages 4-11; dinner show $88.50 for adults, $59 ages 4-11; magic show $50.50 for adults, $33.50 ages 4-11; magic show with premium seating and cocktail $67.50 for adults, $50.50 ages 4-11. Higher prices if booked via telephone.

Hours: Open daily. Dinner seating starts at 4:45 p.m.; magic show seating begins at 5:45 p.m.

Information: (808) 971-4321; www.robertshawaii.com/oahu/entertainment/magic-of-polynesia

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

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