If you love musicals you have certainly been to theatres on Broadway and in the West End. And probably many more nearer your hometown. The ‘musical’ as we know it has been charming audiences in venues large and small for a century or more. If you include Opera and Greek theatre, make that a couple of thousand years.
You will be familiar with the buzz of voices in the huge space slowly fading with the lights, the stage arch in front of you darkening as you settle into your seat in anticipation. Majestically the curtain rises and away you go on a melodic journey, maybe drama, maybe comedy or a mix of both.
But imagine one extra sensation: your comfortable seat is gently moving. Yes, you are on the high seas.
Princess Cruises have many magnificent musical moments in store for you over the next few years. They have teamed up with three-time Oscar winner, four-time Grammy winner, composer of Wicked, Pippin and Godspell, Stephen Schwartz.
He will oversea the creative development of four musicals written specifically for the fleet. His first presentation, Magic to Do, debuted on Crown Princess last October. It showcases some of his famous songs woven into his fascination with magic and illusion. It also features a new hit, It’ll be me, a tribute to the illusionist The Great Houdini.
Stephen will bring on board an ever-changing teams of friends and associates, the cream of Broadway designers, technicians and performers.
These are shows you will only see on the sea. As if you needed even more reasons to go cruising.
All the sea’s a stage
As Stewart Allison, VP Princess Cruises, said: “Our aim is to make sure our passengers ‘come back new’, so we’ve looked at all facets of our offering, the food, the informative talks, the pampering and now the entertainment which is a vital part of our package.”
Stephen remembers his family were great show-goers and saw his first musical at the age of seven.
Of all the shows he’s seen, he remembers the sheer excitement of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. “It had the most influential and exotic music summoning up the place where it was set. The main characters were both right and wrong in their own ways. Something from that masterpiece flowed across to Wicked.”
His next offering for the Princess Cruises stage is a dance show where the dancers display a range of skills taking the audience through the evolution of Broadway choreography.
It will include interviews with performers on their styles and stories. “A little bit like A Chorus Line” says Stephen.
The seas are alive …
What’s different about a musical performed out on the ocean?
Obviously no scenery flying from above as the boat is always moving, although there are many possibilities for magical effects with the new laser projection and lighting systems. Show times are only 45-50 minutes, so story lines are simpler. Casts are smaller and are made up of the resident on-board singers and dancers who also do other shows in different venues on the ship. It’s like working with a rep company, on the seas not on the road, all pitching in with different characters, costumes and accents.
Stephen tells a story on the ups and downs of show business. “Way back in 1957 a show I loved with music by a friend of mine George Kleinsinger was based on Archy and Mehitabel and called Shinbone Alley. It was only a modest success. At the time it was pooh-poohed. Critics asked who could possibly go to a show about an alley full of dancing and singing cats?”
If you follow big stage successes that irony will not be lost. There is a time for everything.
Meanwhile you should pack your musical bags and get ready for a whole new world of entertainment on a Princess cruise. For more information on Princess Cruises go to www.stephenschwartz.com and www.princess.com/schwartz