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Anyone who’s been on a mainstream cruise knows that while the main theatre entertainment is usually pretty good, it’s generally just a bunch of young performers who haven’t made it to Broadway yet, and are cutting their teeth by working on the ships instead of summer stock or Disney parks. Indeed, seeing a big Broadway name on a ship is a rarity previously reserved for special “theme” cruises.
Celebrity Cruises has just changed that, and your Broadway-loving editor couldn’t be happier about the May 2, 2013, announcment from Celebrity:
“Celebrity Cruises announced an exclusive partnership with Manhattan’s noted “54 Below,” which will bring guests on Celebrity’s newly “Solsticized” Celebrity Summit the industry’s most comprehensive, direct-from-Broadway entertainment experience while sailing to the pink-sand paradise of Bermuda.
54 Below – ensconced in a cool, cozy cellar space beneath the legendary, disco-era “Studio 54” – has been dubbed “a throwback to the heyday of authentic New York nightlife,” and “the hot new stage attracting Broadway’s brightest stars.” Now, those stars will light up the stage of Celebrity Summit during its Bermuda vacation season from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), NJ, from this Sunday, May 5, through October 2013.
“‘We are incredibly excited to partner with 54 Below, offering our guests a unique theatrical experience featuring world-class Broadway talent in cabaret style performances,’ said Celebrity’s Director of Entertainment Eric Bohus.”
As of today Celebrity’s planned “Below 54″ schedule are those listed below. If I were booking, I’d be glad to hear any of them, but personally I’m especially keen on Faith Prince, Darius DeHaas, Tom Wopat (well howdy, Luke Duke!), and Marin Mazzie. At this time, the schedule of dates and performers is not available, but Celebrity has confirmed that there will be a performer on each sailing through the specified period. Who would you be excited to hear?
- Faith Prince, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical for Guys & Dolls
- Donna McKechnie, Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical in A Chorus Line
- Anthony Rapp, best known for originating the role of “Mark Cohen” in Rent
- Jarrod Spector, who starred as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys
- Alice Ripley, who won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for Next to Normal, and also has appeared in Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard
- Telly Leung, star of the hit TV show Glee (“Wes”) Telly Leung, whose Broadway credits include Rent and Godspell;
- Andrea McArdle, the original “Annie,” who went on to star in Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Beauty & The Beast
- Christine Andreas, three-time Tony Award nominee recognized for her roles in Oklahoma and On Your Toes
- Elizabeth Stanley of Company, Cry Baby, Million Dollar Quartet
- Shoshana Bean, whose credits include Hairspray and Wicked
- Darius DeHaas of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rent and Carousel
- Tom Wopat of TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard, City of Angels, 42nd St., Guys & Dolls, Chicago and Sondheim on Sondheim
- Brent Barrett, whose credits include West Side Story and Chicago
- Ann Hampton Callaway, Tony-nominated for her role in Swing
- Liz Callaway, nominated for a Tony for her role in Baby, and who also performed in Cats and Miss Saigon
- Gregg Edelman, a four-time Tony nominee, including nods for Best Actor in a Musical for City of Angels
- Marin Mazzie, three-time Tony Award nominee for her roles in Passion, Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate
- Karen Mason, who has appeared in Mamma Mia and Hairspray and is best known for her portrayal of “Norma Desmond” in Sunset Boulevard
- Emily Skinner, whose credits include The Full Monty and Billy Elliot
Additional acts will yet be announced.
Who from the list would you be excited to hear? Who’s the most amazing performer you’ve ever heard on a ship?
Apparently, The Force isn’t always with Carrie Fisher these days. Various reports from the blogosphere highlight Ms. Fisher’s strange performance during a surprise appearance on a recent all-gay RSVP cruise, and post-cruise reports say she was briefly admitted to the hospital for treatment. A Youtube video highlighted some of her performance–alas, Ms. Fisher forced it to be removed over “copyright.” Well ok then.
While the media and other bloggers can have their field day of chit-chat about Ms. Fisher, I’d like to point out that her very appearance on the RSVP gay cruise charter is one of the things that, for many gay cruise fans, makes an all gay cruise different, valuable, and worth the extra money companies like RSVP, Atlantis, R-Family, and Olivia generally charge for their cruises. I’ve personally been on three all-gay cruises (all as a guest of RSVP), and totally enjoyed the experience of dancing poolside to the dance beat of Deborah Cox. I’ve also enjoyed the unique blend of comedians and ship hosts that make these cruises special.
All-gay cruises are not for everyone, but they do offer some very cool experiences, from surprise entertainers such as Ms. Fisher (who I’d love to have met) to the simple fact that you are, at least on RSVP, pretty-much surrounded by thousands of gay men, and there are plenty of shenanigans to be had, if you’re so inclined.
Check out my list of gay cruise myths here.
Were you on the RSVP cruise with Carrie Fisher? We’d love to hear your perspective on this or other all-gay cruise topics.
Do you agree? What are your reasons why cruising is perfect? Comment below!
“What’s your favorite vacation?”
For me, that’s so easy to answer: a cruise! Of course, that’s a different answer than I give for
- What’s your favorite city (New York)
- Where’s your favorite beach destination (Hawaii)
- What’s your favorite cultural spot (Buenos Aires)
I love land-based travel too, but for the limited amount of time I have for a vacation, a cruise can so easily bring different elements of cities, culture, and beaches into one single vacation. And I can get it all, as the cliché goes, but only have to unpack once.
A few nights ago as we watched the Tony Awards (so wonderfully gay, I thought) broadcast a musical production number from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, I was reminded of what a perfect vacation cruising is. I’m not going to say that the shows I’ve seen at sea even begin to rival the overall quality of what I see on my annual pilgrimage to Broadway, but they are still generally very good, and they’re included in the price of my vacation.
I also noted that the Tony’s showed the Oasis of the Seas as being in the Caribbean – the guests on board were able to enjoy Hairspray, plus glorious surf and sand all in one vacation. And on many Caribbean islands, there is actually interesting culture to be found if you peel back a few layers beyond the port area (albeit not always the most gay-friendly culture).
Watching that Tony broadcast, I felt incredibly lucky to be a traveler who has seen Broadway shows on Broadway, and marvelous performers on cruise ships, too.
There are other reasons I think cruising is the perfect vacation—notably the great value, and the high likelihood that I will truly disconnect from home and office for a few days (especially sea days).
Do you agree? What are your reasons why cruising is the perfect vacation option?
Playbill announces luxury sailing with fabulous Broadway stars! 10 nights, sails from Rome, September 13, 2011.
Start practicing your nautical-themed showtunes (Anything Goes, Dames at Sea, Titanic). I believe that somewhere inside every gay man beats–no matter how quietly–the drum of a showtune. We gay cruise passengers can generally get our showtune fix on most ships…either at the piano bar or during a mainstage review. While the performers on most cruises are usually very good, they’re not the big names you’d currently see on the Broadway stage (although some of them may have been there once, or may yet get there).
Enter Playbill–the publishing company that produces the theatre program you receive at Broadway theatres and many other theatres around America, as well as a magazine about theatre. They’ve put together a helluva theme cruise and invited along three top-rate Broadway performers I’d love to mingle with…
I mean really, can you imagine the chance to sing a duet with mega-diva Audra MacDonald at a piano bar? I can’t promise that would happen on this cruise, but if I manage to get on board I’ll do my damndest to make it happen for me (and if her boyfriend Will Swenson is sailing with her, you gay men are in for a visual treat…although I’m betting he’ll be stuck in New York doing his 8 weekly shows in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert).
Joining Ms. MacDonald will be the magnificently talented Christine Ebersol (Grey Gardens, 42nd Street) and hunky Norm Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon). Also along as musical director and to guarantee the gayer-than-you factor will be the inimitable Seth Rudetsky (Sirius Satellite Radio’s Broadway DJ).
The luxury sailing is Italy-Mediterranean on Regent Seven Seas, so it won’t be a cheap trip–but for those who dream of ten days at sea with some of the biggest names on Broadway it’ll surely be worth it (I’m digging into my piggy bank to figure this one out…I’ll already be in Italy at the time).
Note that while you could book the cruise directly through Regent or your favorite travel agent, in order to participate in the Broadway offerings you must book your trip through Playbill’s authorized agency. Unfortunately, they have not listed pricing on their site, so you have to call for details.
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