Directing Entertainment On Cruise Ships
By Anna Robb
“Transitioning from performer to a leadership role takes a lot of hard work”. – Christi Coachman: Director of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean Productions.
Editors Note: Christi began her professional career as a dancer at Walt Disney World in Orlando and while performing, studied Business at the University of Central Florida. In between college semesters, she travelled the world as part of the Entertainment Team for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Christi then went on to complete her BA in Business Administration/Marketing at Florida International University and swiftly became part of Royal Caribbean’s Shoreside Entertainment Department.
Christi has written, cast and produced many productions for Royal Caribbean and is currently the Director of Entertainment. Christi shared with TheatreArtLife some insight into her busy work schedule and what she does in her down time.
Being the Director of Entertainment for Royal Caribbean Productions must be a huge job, how did you end up in this role and what are your main responsibilities?
Having the responsibility of Entertainment Director for such an innovative company is very rewarding. I’ve been with the company for 27 years and started on board as a performer. As Director, I oversee the Produced Entertainment on board our 27 ships in the Theater, Ice Skating Theater (Studio B) and Aqua Theater as well as our shore-side Production Studio facility located in North Miami Beach.
What do you love about your job?
My favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to meet so many talented people. Also, having the opportunity to follow the talent from their audition process all the way through to opening night is also extremely rewarding.
What does an average day of work look like for you?
Life in the role of a Director is different every day. Overseeing the Entertainment on 27 ships keeps me very busy even after hours and the weekend. My days are filled with many different meetings from operational to strategic. Also, taking part in rehearsals is another very important part of my day.
It is a common held belief that working in the live entertainment industry is a lifestyle and not a job. Would you agree and if so, how has working in live entertainment defined other aspects of your life?
Working in the live entertainment industry is definitely a lifestyle. Being “on” is super important and problem solving is a huge part of my job. I could be at a dinner or movie with friends or family and have to step out to take an emergency call from one of the ships. As we are entertaining 85 thousand people every night across our fleet in all different time zones, we must be there to support the ships in case any communication is necessary.
You must have done a lot of travelling in your career. Do you have a favorite destination? What makes this your favorite place?
It’s extremely important to love travel! I traveled over 100,000 miles last year and I’ve been to many different countries. I think I have to say my favorite place to recruit talent is Italy.
You are a mother. How old is your daughter? Tell us about her? Is she like you? Will she want to pursue a career in live entertainment also?
Trying to find the balance between work life and family life can be challenging at times. I am a working mom and respect all those mothers out there who have successful careers and can find that balance. It is beyond important.
Because my husband and I are both in the business it has also led my daughter down the path. She is 13 years old and spends about 20 hours at her studio and is a competitive dancer. Not only does she dance, she is also a Musical Theater performer.
Who are the most inspiring people you have met in your life and why?
I’m inspired every day by my coworkers who are extremely passionate about their work. My staff and I have a very close relationship and lots of experience. This is what motivates me.
Have you ever face discrimination in the workplace? If so, how did you deal with it?
If there are ever any challenges I think the most important thing to do is to communicate face to face. Talking things out is key!
What was the last show/event/concert you saw that was not associated with your job. How was it?
The last concert I saw was the Imagine Dragons. Even though I was there with my family for a fun evening out, they have a lot of video projection used in their show so it ended up inspiring a lot of fun ideas.
Do you have a favorite job/gig in your career that stands out the most for you? Tell us about it.
My favorite job in my career was actually performing on stage!!
You transitioned from being a performer to becoming a director. How did this transition happen? What were the steps? What did you need to learn/adapt to in this process?
I was fortunate enough to move to the shore-side Entertainment department as production coordinator and held numerous roles, all in entertainment. Because of my operational background mixed with my creative background it was a natural transition to oversee the casting. Of course, it was a natural transition to oversee the entire operation as the Director once the opportunity was available.
What advice would you give to someone transitioning from being a performer to a management role?
Transitioning from performer to a leadership role takes a lot of hard work. If I could give any advice it would be to never stop educating yourself and be sure that early in your career you work on completing college.
And most important – be nice and authentic!!
What do you do in your down time from work?
Even when I’m not working, I’m pretty much still involved in the arts. I travel often with my daughter to dance conventions supporting her education in the world of dance.