Suffice it to say that ship life has been completely different for the past month and a half. Hence why I haven’t written anything in that time – amongst my work schedule, my resultant cravings for social interaction (oddly enough), and my sheer physical exhaustion most of the time, it was hard to find the time and, more honestly, the effort to blog.
But oh, how much has happened.
As I mentioned a few times over the past few months, we are one of the premiere casts of the new Stephen Schwartz collaboration with Princess Cruises, called “Magic To Do.” It opened first on the Crown Princess a few weeks ago, and it opened two weeks ago here on the Ruby. As a result, we were in all-day rehearsals for a full month – while continuing to perform our standard show schedule.
There were many, MANY opportunities for growth in that time. (That’s the polite way to say it, no?) Multiple directors, punishing vocal demands, brand new microphones, and a constantly evolving script were among just a few of the challenges involved in this show. Add in the fact that they essentially trained 17 singers and dancers to become minor stage magicians, with or without the equipment and props for weeks, and…well, you can imagine how complicated and demanding it all was.
Also, whereas before my work schedule was fairly relaxed, affording me lots of time to explore new ports and experience lots of adventures, our rehearsal schedule meant I was only able to get off in port three times in that month, and that for perhaps one or two hours at most. 14-hour work days (including two shows a night) were not unusual. One cruise week felt like two to three normal-world weeks have passed. Work-life balance was a constant struggle; I had trouble remembering what downtime felt like. And losing my voice the week of the show was a frustrating, humbling, and scary experience (though it had a happy ending, thanks to vocal rest – which I’d never had to do before!).
The show is gorgeous. Literally, in fact – the lights are by Broadway legend Ken Billington, and his work is just breathtaking. The choreography by Jennifer Paulson-Lee has brought tears to my eyes over and over again, so beautiful is it. The costumes and wigs are sort of a colorful, contemporary take on the 1930s, mixed with a Magreet painting (one of the seeds of the visual design). And the magic is truly spectacular. In my scenes alone, I saw my “mother-in-law” in half and cause her to insta-change clothes, make solid silver rings link and unlink magically, appear from an empty cabinet, and levitate. Yes, levitate! And yet there’s so much more even.
Naturally, the music is such a treat to sing. If you’re a musical theatre fan, you know Stephen Schwartz music – Pippin, Godspell, and Wicked are just a few of his biggest hits. He also wrote lyrics for Pocahontas, which was the movie that made me want to sing professionally. (My patient family had to listen to “Colors of the Wind” for years.) Anyway, it’s an honor to sing his music, especially since in no other show could I sing both “Popular” AND “Defying Gravity.”
I’m a blonde in the show! I haven’t been blonde since I was five. It’s…weird to see myself blonde, honestly; I’m still not really used to it. And our makeup was all designed by one of the main creatives from Cirque du Soleil, so it’s just fantastic. We’ve each had hours of makeup training just to learn our proper show makeup, which takes around an hour and a half to complete. It’s an awesome skill for the future – but now I’m addicted to proper makeup brushes and high-quality MAC makeup. #professionalproblems
Since opening the show, things have calmed down a little bit. Although now we’re installing ANOTHER new show this cruise. Fortunately it is much less demanding of the singers and dancers, as it’s a live presentation of The Voice of the Ocean – yes, an exclusive Princess collaboration with NBC’s The Voice, with the big red chairs that turn around and everything. But the passengers are the stars, so my role is simply mentor and backup singer. I can do that!
We’re headed back to Hawaii this weekend, and this time I might be able to experience it for real! Here are a few snapshots I took in the few hours I was able to get off the boat when we were in Hawaii a month ago, rehearsing Magic To Do. I’m hoping to return to regular blogging now that life is back to “normal,” so hopefully I’ll be back with you later this week!