19th June 2021
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Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 7: Time To Explore A New World

cruise ship life
By Tony Yamashiro

Thursday 27, 1998. Deck 8 Aft.  Day 7 of 10 Day Dry Dock

Dear David- I have walked into many adventures in my life, but this cruise ship gig is one for the books. Thank God that I have Alan here to help make sense of this crazy world. With having him here it’s just like old times. I remember how you didn’t quite understand my friendship with Alan, thinking he was a complete nutcase.

Thom has finally come around with being somewhat less than an asshole with me. He is 30 years my senior and very much feels like a Grizabella being around these young, energetic, and beautiful flock of performers we are responsible for. I do see the kindness inside of him on how he helps the more “lost” performers find their way. Thom seems to me like someone who is watching his life pass before his eyes in every show he works on. After the 10 day dry dock and the opening of the 3 production shows, Thom will return to Atlanta, Georgia to continue teaching. I would never have pegged him as a teacher after the cold and jaded reception I received when we first met.

Taking this gig was a way for me to focus on myself and learn how to move my life forward after you left me. When you died I was so hurt and then angry at you for leaving me on my own.

Why did you have to go out with your friends on “that night”…at “that time”… in an area that could take you away from me? I tried to hide the pain in my work and keep myself busy so that I stopped feeling anything. Theatre has always been my passion but it has also been my escape. At least now on a cruise ship production show I can actually escape and see more of the world.

I do have to say that in the 7 days of this one year contract has been a complete mess, disorganized, and a marathon…but one that hasn’t scared me off at all.

Barry’s assistant, Lady, was not kidding about us having to move every couple of days. We’ve also been working in our cabins since we can’t get backstage to the theatre with all the maintenance going on. Even the poor cast has been rehearsing on the pool deck, in hallways, and even on the pier with an audience of dock workers looking on.

Alan purchased a boom box since he can’t get a sound system to work anywhere since they have them moving rehearsal spaces as much as our cabins. Alan’s fashion style has been a shock to the system for many of the butch dock workers. Running around the ship dressed in his brightly colored jumpsuits and his “ghetto blaster”, he looks like a gay rapper from the West Hollywood neighborhood.

The shows that we are setting up are 3 completely different styles; Las Vegas Revue, Cirque Style Show, and a Broadway book show…for us it’s “42nd Street”. How in the world do you pull off “42nd Street” with only 14 cast members?

The cast ages range from 19 to 33 years old and includes every personality in the book.

We have the following players:
Cast Member/Country of Origin “42nd Street” Cast List:
Zach – American MS1 (Male Singer #1) Julian Marsh
Corey- American MS2 (Male Singer #2) Billy Lawlor
Daniel- British MSD (Male Singer/Dancer) Andy Lee – Dance Captain
Caroline- American FS1 (Female Singer #1) Dorothy Brock
Candi- South Africa FS2 (Female Singer #2) Maggie Jones
Holly- American FSD (Female Singer/Dancer) Peggy Sawyer
Armand- French Male Adage (Specialty Act) Pat Denning/Dancer
Gigi- French Female Adage (Specialty Act) Phyllis Dale/Dancer
Russ- Canadian MD1 (Male Dancer #1) Abner Dillon/Dancer
Kenny- British MD2 (Male Dancer #2) Mac
James- British MD3 (Male Dancer #3) Oscar
Leanne – British FD1 (Female Dancer #1) Anytime Annie
Anna – Canadian FD2 (Female Dancer #2) Lorraine Flemming
Ashley – American FD3 (Female Dancer #3) Gladys

Alan – American Production Manager
Jeffrey – American Lighting Operator
Derrin – Australian Sound Operator
Jeremy – Canadian Technical Manager/Stage Hand
Tony – American Wardrobe Supervisor

At the moment I’m writing while sitting on the 8th deck all the way aft of the ship. I was corrected yesterday that this is not a “boat…a boat is what you ride to get to the ship”. I really love this spot on the ship. Right now the only view I have from here is the shipyard, but my romantic mind can imagine the beautiful horizon of the open ocean. Just think how romantic this would be to have a lovely bottle of Malbec with a sunset in the distance and you at my side.

“Hey, Mr. Belvedere, what are you writing in your little black book there?” asked the voice behind me.

I looked back to see Zach, that tall beautiful caramel-light skin principal singer. Zach has quickly become my favorite in the cast and has been a fountain of knowledge of cruise ship life.

“Hi Zach…it’s my journal, I’ve kept them since I was 10 years old”. Zach came over and sat on a box next to me and looked out at the shipyard below us. Showing him the page I was currently writing in, “it’s just somewhere for me to sort out my feelings and get things out of my head.”

Zach looked at the page and said, “it kind of looks like a letter to someone.” Eyeing him I’m thinking how much I should trust him…remember Tony, you came on this adventure to move your life forward. “I write letters to my late husband in my journals.”

Looking at his puzzled face I added, “when I was 20 years old the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with passed away. I guess this is my way of always keeping him in my thoughts and to help myself in feeling less lonely.”

Zach was quiet for a moment and then broke the silence, “you have found the best place on the ship. It may not look like much at the moment with only the shipyard around us, but once we are sailing you will be surrounded by God’s beauty.

With the power of a gorgeous sunset over that fabulous blue ocean, you will never feel alone. The power of the ocean is like the power of love, you can feel like you are floating or it can knock the wind out of you.

You are a special man Tony, I see this through your kindness with the cast members and I see it in the kindness that Thom doesn’t show you. You have found a very special place to collect your thoughts and a way to do it with your journal. With every new cast is a new beginning in building new friendships and maybe love along the way…Hell, Mr. Tony you have found a friend in me.”

I looked out at the sky and notice the sunset beyond the shipyard and said, “thank you, Zach, I feel like we are going to be friends for a long time.”

Zach laughed and said, “Okay Girl, I hear through the ship’s grapevine that the crew bar is done with maintenance and it will be open tonight at 8 pm. Here is a little map that you may find helpful for the crew bar.” Now, I had a puzzled look on my face as I opened the folded piece of paper that Zach was handing me. “Why do I need a map, isn’t it like a bar on land?”

“Girl, you don’t know the half of it…the drama that goes on in this room will keep you busy with your little black book for a long time…it’s time to explore a new world.”

cruise ship life

Don’t miss any Tales Of Cruise Ship Life excerpts from The Floating City of Misfit Toys by Tony Yamashiro:

Continue to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 8: Maybe This Time 

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 6: Release The Pigeons!

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 5: Lights Out

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 4: The Eyeballs Are The Best Part

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 3: Hello My Old Friend

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 2: The Bat Signal

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 1: Dream


Also on TheatreArtLife:

Steph Parry: From West End To The Caribbean – An Interview

Applause Applause: Finding Creative Satisfaction on Cruise Ships

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