Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Thursday, May 30, 2024 75° Today's Paper


Maui circus producers taking show on the road

Erika Engle
Swipe or click to see more
A rendering of the Polynesia village-themed set in which the traveling Cirque Polynesia troupe will perform while in Indonesia.
Swipe or click to see more
One of the acts in "The Great American Circus," produced by "Cirque Polynesia" creators Cornell "Tuffy" Nicholas and Doug Harris.
Swipe or click to see more
Another of the acts in "The Great American Circus."
Swipe or click to see more
This act wowed the Alaskan crowds last month.
Swipe or click to see more
Another performer who wowed the Alaskan crowds last month.

Lifelong circus man Cornell "Tuffy" Nicholas and lifelong marketing man Doug Harris of The Harris Agency LLC have formed Nicholas Harris Entertainment to expand the scope of Maui’s Cirque Polynesia to audiences abroad.

While the Maui show continues its performances at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa where it will mark two years in June, the co-impresarios created a new show, "The Great American Circus," and sold 28,000 tickets for 34 shows performed by a traveling troupe in Alaska last month.

The next show will roll out in a traditional circus tent at the Agana Shopping Center on Guam later this month, though the show uses only people — no animals. It will then travel to the Philippines for 34 performances at Manila’s SM Mall of Asia.

Nicholas was born to circus folk and gave his first performance at age 3. While a popular adage has kids running away from home to join the circus, Nicholas ran away from his circus home twice, only to return to produce the more modern Cirque du Soleil-inspired style of shows.

A descendant of composer Arthur Sullivan (of theatrical production creators Gilbert and Sullivan) and originally from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Harris drew from his heritage to help develop the music, costuming and haka (war chant) used in the Polynesian-themed shows. Little-known fact: The never shy or retiring Harris performed a haka at his own wedding in 1992.

A Christmas-themed version of "Cirque Polynesia" will be performed by another troupe in Indonesia next month. The set is a Polynesian village built in the Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall in Jakarta, an upscale retail center measuring more than 2.7 million square feet.

"The economy in Hawaii was part of the reason that forced me to look further afield to other markets," Harris said. He became convinced there was a much larger market for the shows he and Nicholas produced "after doing a couple events on Guam," he said. He made six or seven presentations throughout Southeast Asia, and with the positive overall response, "it was pretty easy to put together deals."

The "better margins outside Hawaii are sort of helping us with our presence across the board," said Harris.

"I think Hawaii entertainment is definitely world class," Harris said.

"Obviously, we’re performing to the gamut of the world every night," promoting Hawaii to the world. Dates are booked through spring, but "the more we play, the more opportunities are opening up," Harris said, predicting further bookings may take the shows through August or September of next year.


Wilcox Health Foundation’s gala dinner at the Kauai Marriott tomorrow night will focus on keeping guests healthy and safe, despite the heavy drinking, smoking and gambling the "Vintage Vegas" theme evokes.

Rather than cigarette girls there will be "No Smoking Girls" offering wellness goodies to guests, for instance. Also, given that grown-up drinks will be served, alcohol test strips, used orally, will be discreetly offered in the restrooms for guests who suspect they may need to go home in a cab.

Lists of taxi company phone numbers also will be provided.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at erika@staradvertiser.com.


Comments are closed.