Thursday was show business night.
On most cruises, I sponsor an appreciation dinner for the dancers and singers of the ship's company.
I started the tradition about 20 years ago on a short cruise to Ensenada. I had become friends with the house act Los Gauchos Diablos -- Juan and Eileen Santillan.
One reason I cruise is to have access to live entertainment. Even mediocre performances are better than most recorded pieces. And when live performances are good, they are home runs.
Eileen and I came up with the idea of taking the cast to lunch on shore to show my admiration for their work. It turned out, we ate tacos. I think I spent at most $30 (US) for the lot of us. What I remember most is that we all had a great time getting to know one another. The toast I gave that afternoon is the foundation of the one I still use.
Over the years, the meals morphed into dinners at the specialty restaurants. And the cost escalated proportionately -- about 50 times on some occasions.
But the reasons for the dinner remained the same. I wanted to show my appreciation for their work, but I also took away a lot from each experience.
The company members are usually in their early 20s. If any are older, and some are, they still have the vivaciousness and hope of youth.
My fellow passengers, for the most part, do not share those qualities. If you spend much time confined with people whose average age is similar to the noon temperature in my little fishing village in Mexico, having dinner with young people can be a welcome relief.
We elderly tend to lull our listeners into boredom -- when we are not bludgeoning them into conformity. Young people, as least young entertainers, listen carefully and then fill the room with energy and musical laughter.
Best of all, these entertainers know their craft. And it is a craft in which I have long had an interest -- as you may have concluded from some of my posts during the past year.
It is a rare opportunity for me to be able to have in-depth conversations about musical transcription, the respective strengths of Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown, anecdotes about show triumphs and bloopers, and the challenge of finding material to please live audiences -- all of it mixed with a lot of dropped names and juicy show gossip.
And that is exactly how this dinner revealed itself. The current cast of the Radiance of the Seas is almost equally divided between British and American performers -- with a Romanian and an Italian thrown in for continental flair.
Even though you will most likely never meet them, there they are at the top of the post. Their names?
- Catalina Danciu
- Elizabeth Butler
- Jamie Bradley
- Kelsi Curtis
- Laura Stewart
- Nicola Cortesi
- Shauna Osborne
- Danielle Heaton
- Edward Griffith
- Gareth Mitchell
- Melissa McLaughlin
All of those comparisons between the youth of the company and the age of my fellow passengers, eventually hits home. I may get a lot of energy from associating with these energetic talented young people, but it only helps to emphasize I am not the gay young blade I once was who reveled in his theatrical role of member of the audience.
My energy transfusions from these dinners are not lasting as long as they once did. That simply means I am aging -- just like everyone else.
But, as long as I am healthy enough to cruise, I will dig deep in my pocket to share a bit of my time in my rejuvenation machine.