On Stage: Norwegian Escape Launches With Three New Showsby Laura Motta | December 29, 2015
When Norwegian’s newest ship, Norwegian Escape, launched in November in Miami, the cruise line introduced three new stage shows. Because the line is known for Broadway-style musicals and high-energy dinner theater, expectations were high. So how do the shows stack up? We checked them out on the inaugural sailing, and this is what we found:
If you only see one show on Norwegian Escape, this should be the one. "After Midnight" brings all of the skill and impeccable polish of Broadway to the high seas, at a level rarely seen on cruise ships. An ode to Harlem’s Cotton Club in its 1920s heyday, the performance recreates the styles and sounds of the all-black revue with a stellar cast, a big band-style orchestra, and songs by Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, and Ethel Waters. With nary a hair, dance step, or spangle out of place, the production is as beautiful — and as beautifully performed— as its Broadway counterpart was when it ran.
Insider Tip: Notice the eye-popping original costumes by artists Isabel and Ruben Toledo. And, as an added bonus, the show stars Tony-nominated Actress Brenda Braxton, who brings a regal dose of effortless cool to the proceedings through March 2016.
For the Record: The Brat Pack, Live at the Supper Club
This musical revue, performed with energy by a youthful cast, gives the audience a breakneck tour of John Hughes’ classic films from the 1980s via the music of the era. You’re more likely to enjoy this show if you know Hughes’ films and characters, which are referenced constantly throughout. Viewers who don’t may feel a little lost, although songs like “If You Leave” and “Weird Science” will resonate even without context.
The wraparound setup of the Supper Club puts you close to the action and the actors, who bound around the theater to sing solos, dance on tables, and drum up audience participation. The show smartly keeps things short, light, and fun and is reminiscent of the cheerful bachelorette party fare that runs constantly in small, off-Broadway theaters.
Insider Tip: The food on the set menu is just fine, but eating in the dark theater is enough of a challenge that you'll see many theater-goers grabbing a bite later in other restaurants.
Million Dollar Quartet
More a concert with some occasional dialogue than a fully narrative musical, "Million Dollar Quartet" is, in some ways, the perfect show for a cruise ship. It goes down easily, doesn’t require a lot of mental energy, and thrives on the power of its thundering musical — rather than acting — performances. Based on the true story of a 1956 jam session that united Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins in a single room at Sun Record Studios, the show is essentially an excuse to play a bunch of classic rock songs at full volume for a few hours.
Insider Tip: You don't have to be a fan of any of these superstars to enjoy the show. Even if you never play their music at home, you'll find there are worse ways to spend your time than at this performance. That's thanks to the cast, who sing, act, and play their own instruments — and some occasional comic relief from the entertaining Jerry Lee Lewis character.
Laura Motta is the director of publishing for ShermansTravel.