Theatre at Sea Is Now On QE2 and Caronia

News   Theatre at Sea Is Now On QE2 and Caronia

Traveling on cruise liners — which even 15 years ago seemed as dated as the 1920's and 1930's when liners were at their most glamorous — has become increasingly popular, whether at the five star or the jolly holiday-camp at sea ends of the market.

Live entertainment is a major feature on cruise ships, and theatre at sea is now big business. Performing for expiates, reminding them of Shaftesbury Avenue when in Singapore or Siam, was a major money-spinner for the late Derek Nimmo, who toured small-scale productions around the Middle and Far East. Nowadays its as easy — and more comfortable — to perform on cruise ships, especially as the up-market end of the industry has all the elements of old-world luxury that make an ideal backdrop to Noël Coward cabarets or excerpts from period plays.

Cunard is a historic name when it comes to liners and both its major ships — the QE2 and the Caronia — have theatres that attract well-known performers. Currently steaming home from the Mediterranean, the Caronia has been hosting a theatre-themed cruise with a group of American theatre enthusiasts and performers, Theatre at Sea.

This is an experience organized by the Theatre Guild of America, a society of theatre supporters founded in 1919 and which has found there to be a major market for combining traveling by sea and seeing well-known actors and singers perform. Among the theatrical celebrities appearing on the Caronia are Millicent Martin (British, but now resident in America) and Maureen Lipman — very British, especially when doing excerpts from her Joyce Grenfell show. Theatre as an art form is as old as Western civilization and continues to resonate down the centuries: Euripides' Ancient Greek classic The Bacchai is being performed at the National Theatre in London. Most Mediterranean cities have Greek and/or Roman theatres, and there were two found at Pompeii: the major one is still used for concerts and, rather incongruously, Frank Sinatra gave one of his numerous "farewell" performances there in the remarkably well-preserved Roman auditorium.

The Greeks and Romans considered theatre an essential part of any settlement or colony as well as a basic amenity in cities back home. Over 2,000 years later, the British and Americans clearly feel the same way, which is why their cruise liners — in essence, little floating colonies with the dress codes, manners and elegant way of life reminiscent of the colonial era — all have a theatre on board, where singing, dancing and acting are all an essential part of the life of the ship.

Shakespeare may have said that "all the world's a stage," but sometimes so's a ship.

—By Paul Webb Theatrenow

Today’s Most Popular News:

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting with your ad blocker.
Thank you!