Like just now... a couple with their child just walked by. Normally the through way leads to Dazzles, but on the port side (where I am) the doors are closed due to a lecture that is taking place there. Now, when I say doors, I don't mean some nice etched glass affair, welcoming you to open them and walk through. No, these are basically fire screen doors, painted a single color to vaguely go with the... “decor.” When closed, they really don't seem all that inviting... or easy... to open. Yet still, here they come.... gonna open those doors. After a few mighty pulls, they don't open, and dejected the trio regroup to attack from the starboard side. And now two kids are trying to open it... same result.
The same thing happens when our doors are closed in the Stardust for one of our rehearsals. From the Casino we actually have inviting etched glass doors, beckoning the pax to open... however we hang signs on them warning the pax of the perils that lie within. From the front of the ship into the theatre we have the same fire screen doors, which are twice as hard to open than the ones I mentioned above. Still, passengers will break their wrists trying to jimmy their way through, then act surprised when the signs that they read warning of the rehearsal going on were actually correct! Strange thing, words.
But other than the architectural deficiencies of the Dream (which I am addressing in a blog to come later), what the hell's been going on? Well, last week Steven, my good buddy and singing counterpart, left us for greener pastures over in Tokyo. Before he landed his JAR gig, he had already signed up to do some foreign service over at Tokyo Disney, singing in the “Horseshoe Revue” I think. So, having finished his half contract, he is taking a short break before taking off for “Disrey Rand.” Still, what kind of friend would I be if I didn't bust his chops a little?
Lets go back to last week... it was Sunday night, and we were all paying a little rent performing “It's Fame” for our usual sedate audience... tired from their travels and drunk from a few frozen concoctions during the sail away. I knew it was going to be a special “Fame” when we got on stage, the music started, then stopped, then we were introduced, then a few more seconds of uncomfortable silence, then the music started again. Nothing like some awkwardness to give everyone in attendance the illusion that we usually make beds when not playing dress up on stage... but boy oh boy did things get better.
We're singing through Fame, and at one point in the number the four singers split off the stage onto the satellites, while the dancers do their thing on the stage. After that, Steve and I regroup in front of the stage, on level with the front row on a little strip of dance floor that the stage covers most of. The dance floor is stained wood, and none of us have ever given it much thought... until that night. Steve and I come strutting in to center there, and for some reason there was something slick on the floor on Steve's side. As I am walking towards him, I see him fall to the ground and pop back up, in his silly bedazzled “Ricky Martin” jacket, tight lycra shirt, and black high wasted and steroid pleated pants. The fact that we are supposed to inspire awe in the song, as we are singing about training endlessly and tirelessly striving to obtain “fame” just made it all the more funny to me.
So, Steve pops back up and is acting like nothing had happened... but I saw it, and unfortunately I couldn't hold my cookies together. As Steve and I sing through our give an take of alternating lyrics, we both try, and fail, to keep from laughing at the whole situation. Meanwhile, our head mikes, which we cannot remove from our head while singing, are picking up all of our snickering. We end our section by pretty much throwing our hands in the air... giving it up and leaving before it was over. Priceless. Still, why would you want to just read about it? Here it is... “Fame.”
At the end there, if you listen closely, you can hear the faint sound of me laughing backstage. Our sound and light techs, whose titles I utter with less and less certainty everyday, were curious as to what was so funny. So they turn on my mic in their monitors up in the booth. As they listen to me laugh and wail, the TV tech's camera picks it up, and later broadcasts it on one of the ship channels for all to see.
But that's not all...
Later that night I was leaving the dressing room to go upstairs to the gym for a drink of water. As I am leaving Steve is walking into our laundry area backstage. For whatever reason, on our washing machine is the word “Cono,” with a squiggly over the “n”, written on a piece of tape. I was never sure what it meant, but I assumed it wasn't something good. Still, when Steve walked in there and yelled it out loud (he too really doesn't know), I heard it. As I walked out the dressing room door, into the pax area, I yell it back. Then I turn right and head up the stairs, and notice the Spanish couple who had stopped dead in their tracks and were now staring at me. I could hear her mutter to him something like “did he just say cono?” to which he nodded and stared back at me. Later I confirmed with Victor, our Spanish gymnast, that I indeed said something that I probably shouldn't have. Actually, his opinion was that I shouldn't give a damn, but that's how Victor is... even he would have changed his tune if he had seen their faces... ah, style...
But, let me get back to Steve. Remember back when I told you about the time Steve used my “oh shoot, I locked myself out of my room, can I have the key I gave you for this reason only” key to break into my room while he was drunk... and while I was asleep, to remind me of what a good idea it was to give him that key in the first place? Yeah, that one. Well, I was reminded once again. It was his second to last night here, and we had just been out with most of the cast in Dazzles, tossing back some shots, and other various libations.
After last call, we retreated back to the cabins, where many of us were in Christy and Victor's room. At one point, I went to my room for something... and that's when I realized my sheets and pillows were missing. Figuring Steve had them in his room, I went and knocked... no answer. No problem, as I now have a key to his room, for the same “Oh shoot...” reason. Well, Steve expected this move and was inside his room, holed up next to his door, bracing the handle from the inside, which basically would not let me inside, even with the key. After a few minutes of trying I gave up and went back to the party in 5269. After ten minutes, I figured that it was safe to try again... and that's when I noticed that now my mattresses were gone as well. Once again, a video speaks volumes, and here it is:
Later, when I finally retrieved my mattresses, I was stopped in the hallway by Lyndsey, one of our dancers, who did a little impromptu Martha Graham on them.
So, like I've said before, there is never a dull moment around here. Of course, it goes without saying (although I say it every time), the shows are pretty much the same as they always've been. Now that Steve is gone, I have inherited the “Country Line Dance” number in Country Gold. Basically I lead a line dance with the help of the dancers and three volunteers from the audience. While it is certainly not a problem for me to run my mouth with reckless abandon on stage (it's not scripted... heh heh...), I have to fill about six minutes of time. I got a few stabs at it in rehearsals, where after a couple of tries, there was still a solid minute and some change of time left after I had finished everything. Fortunately, my first time with an audience proved to have just enough time... I'm sure I'll pop off some gems while on stage... more on that as it happens. We also have a new singer with us... Peter. He's done a couple of these shows before on another ship, so the transition has been seamless.
Then there's the prank I pulled during Sea Legs at Sea... in the show there's a mix of numbers from the musical Showboat. It starts with my up tempo rendition of “Old Man River” that causes poor ol' Jerome Kern to lose sleep on a weekly basis, then goes into “Show Boat” and “Cotton Blossom” then into a kick line, then back into “Show Boat,” but played in half time as if it were going to be some sort of show stopper... and it never is. Seriously, the music backs up, vamps, and the backup vocals (there are no live vocals for this number) start singing “Here.. comes... th'... Showboat!” on and on and on while the audience is supposed to jump up and go crazy... which they never do.
Well, not one to let my company go unappreciated, I embody a full house of official Showboat fan club members during rehearsals of SLAS, and when that number comes up I jump up and scream and holler... Usually the others who are sitting around me jump in, and we have a great time pretending anyone would generally give a damn about it... which they don't. Well, one day I had an idea.
Here I am with Lindsay (YC) and Steve, painting up some signs for that night's SLAS. My idea was to get the kids who attend the first show to basically do what I do in rehearsal, but while an audience of unsuspecting passengers wonder just what they're missing... Lindsay helped me orchestrate it, as she has sat through the SLAS train wreck so often that the nauseating theme to SLAS haunts her dreams. I snuck out into the house to see the reaction, and since the dancers are told to smile 'till their teeth hurt, I was unsure if they even noticed... Still, I thought it was hilarious! Here it is:
And that's about it for things that have been going on around here! By the time I get this posted, we will be in the middle of our SIXTEENTH Bermudian cruise. After that, it'll be a month of cruises to Maine and Canada, so there are still more stories to tell... stay tuned.
Keep On Livin' The Dream,
Michael Lamendola (With Steve after our last Sea Legs At Sea)