In the opening number of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, three Divas fly in above the male ensemble singing the classic Weather Girl’s song, It’s Raining Men. The song is a smash hit and sets the audience up for an entertaining evening on board the Norwegian Epic! But what happens when the Weather Girls predict a storm on the horizon?
All cruise ship productions create 'rough weather' contingency plans. Typically the Creative team, Dance Captain and Production Stage Manager brainstorm where to modify the show’s staging and scenic transitions if the ship encounters any sort of inclement weather. Everyone focuses on implementing the fewest modifications possible while ensuring performances run smoothly and safely. For example, in Priscilla, any character flying above the stage would enter from backstage or through the Front of House where the audience sits. We don’t cut the performers from the show, we simply restage them to make the show look as close to the original version as possible. Another example comes from After Midnight, in which we might cut a performer’s tap dance solo on a table top if the ship was too rocky. Instead, the tap solo might take place in front of the table.
When we encounter any performances with modifications, the Production Stage Manager and Dance Captain rehearse the affected areas of the show, ensuring all performers and technicians are safe and comfortable with their new show tracks onstage and offstage. We rehearse because the show should look and sound wonderful onstage and run safely behind the scenes. Changing the backstage traffic of a show can be dangerous! Our production shows have large scenery pieces and props, such as furniture and handheld items used by the performers. Changing where and when performers enter means we may have to change the timing of major transitions or the locations of where smaller items are brought on and off. In Priscilla, restaging the Divas’ entrances before they sing I Will Survive also means their costume changes will not take place in their normal location backstage. Communicating the new location of the costume change to the performers and the dressers who assist with the costume changes keeps everyone on the same page and lessens the chances of something going awry.
On rare occasions we may cancel a performance. Each show is different, so unfortunately we cannot look at a weather forecast and plan on cancelling performances. The Cirque Dreams and Dinner experience in the Spiegel Tent onboard the Norwegian Epic features Cirque du Soleil circus acts, which include of aerial and stunt work. If the overall show and dinner experience will not meet satisfactory entertainment standards, the Production Stage Manager works with people such as the Box Office Manager, Cruise Director and Hotel Director to cancel the show. We look at providing alternative options in our programming for the evening and also into rebooking or refunding guests.
In addition to taking care of the show’s look and safety, we also take care of ourselves. Some people are more prone to seasickness than others, even ship employees! We can take seasickness pills, just like guests. Some people claim eating green apples helps alleviate nausea.
When it comes to performing out at sea, the daily motion of the ocean keeps us on our toes! Every show plans for different conditions so we can always perform the best show possible for our guests.