DIVA TALK AT SEA: Canada, Comedy and Wonder

DIVA TALK AT SEA: Canada, Comedy and Wonder Diva Talk hits the sea this week as the Norwegian Dawn travels from New York City to Nova Scotia and Massachusetts with a host of Broadway performers.

******

Day Three: Tuesday, July 12

Tuesday morning began with a bang—actually with the sound of welcoming bagpipes outside the deck of our stateroom. That was Zeke—my friend who is traveling with me on this week of adventures—and my welcome to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax is the first of four stops that the mammoth Norwegian Dawn will make on its current journey: the others include Boston, Provincetown and Martha's Vineyard.

For each port of call passengers are able to view the city on their own or choose from one of many pre-arranged tours. For Halifax, the numerous choices included a visit to Peggy's Cove and a lobster lunch; a hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus tour of Halifax; a visit to two of central Halifax's most historic pubs as well as the Alexander Keith Brewery; a one-hour land and water tour of Halifax via the Harbour Hopper; a tour of Halifax aboard the tall ship "Mar II"; a one-and-a-half-hour tour of Halifax on a horse-drawn trolley; a haunted Halifax walking tour; a scenic artisan's gallery tour; or a Halifax Dartmouth bridge walk, among others.

Zeke and I decided to be a bit adventurous (I'm not sure what came over me) and booked two tickets for sea kayaking at the Prospect Peninsula. A 45-minute bus ride —featuring a very outgoing tour guide who informed us she was childhood friends with singer Anne Murray— brought us to the boathouse, where we were given life preservers and an odd outfit to keep us from getting too wet as well as brief instructions about handling the kayak. As much fun as it was, I have to admit I don't think kayaking is my calling. I was, however, quite happy that I didn't turn over in the kayak (in fact, none of the 30 or so of us did), although I was less happy that I didn't think to apply any sunscreen. We also did a bit of exploring of the lovely city before returing to the Norwegian Dawn, where Zeke and I went for what seems to be our daily swim in the indoor pool. We then caught a chat with "Queer as Folk" star Sharon Gless, which followed the screening of the episodes of the Showtime series that featured Rosie O'Donnell as guest star. O'Donnell and Gless answered questions from the audience, who were quite taken with both O'Donnell and the former star of "Cagney & Lacey."

A Lobster Bake at the Oasis Poolside followed at 5 PM, and then Zeke and I returned to our stateroom to ready ourselves for the evening's entertainment. There were many choices tonight, but we limited ourselves to two: the Comedy Showcase in the Stardust Theatre and a concert with Darius de Haas, also in the ship's biggest theatre.

The Comedy Showcase was hosted by the riotous Judy Gold, who will offer a solo evening of comedy later in the week. The hour-long Showcase also spotlighted two other gay/lesbian comedians: Jason Dudey and Poppy Champlain. The jam-packed crowd was on its feet by the end of the evening, as lesbian comic Champlain offered rewritten lyrics to West Side Story's "Jet Song."

At 11 PM, Darius de Haas took to the Stardust Theatre stage. De Haas may be best known to audiences for his work on Broadway, Off-Broadway and on regional theatre stages across the country, but what really pulses through this performer's veins is wonder, Stevie Wonder. The powerful tenor with the multi-octave range and quivering vibrato performed a dynamic tribute to singer-songwriter Wonder, who de Haas believes is "one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century." De Haas was backed by a terrific four-piece band as well as two thrilling singers: former Caroline, or Change stars Capathia Jenkins and Aisha de Haas. The latter happens to be Darius' sister, and one of the most touching moments of the show featured de Haas' dedication of Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" to his sister. (The song's original lyric actually includes the line: "Isn't she lovely/ Life and love are the same/ Life is Aisha/ The meaning of her name.")

De Haas impressed with both well and lesser-known Wonder tunes. Among them: "Ribbon in the Sky," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," "Too High" and "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." The multi-talented performer had the audience clapping, cheering and dancing, and by the end of his hour-long concert, everyone in the room was on his or her feet. A wonderful way to end a great day.

Tomorrow we arrive in Boston . . . more to come . . .

Happy sailing, and, of course, happy diva-watching!