Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Cruise Dynamic

One of the drawbacks to the world of working on a cruise ship as an entertainer is that you have to maintain almost perfect health.  There are no understudies.  There is no one who can step in for you at moment's notice.  They can't simply re-block the show to cover a singer. 

This happened last night.  Darian, my leading lady has lost her voice.  The show was Piano Man.  It was a formal night.  Beginning of the cruise.  She waited until too late to go see the doctor, and by then she could not be signed off of work because the show had already been scheduled and printed in the daily list of activities.   This is extremely frustrating.  We do have "safety tracks," which is basically a recorded performance of someone who has done the show in the past.  For some unknown reason, they can't (won't?) record over these vocals to substitute our voices.  It works okay for  the female voice, to a certain point, but when the lead male singer was an African-American with a very unique vocal quality, it makes me look like a fool trying to lip-synch to his voice.  But I digress.  Darian was the one who had to do the lip-synching.  I ended up taking about six of her solos added on to what I was already singing.  Needless to say, my voice is exhausted today.  Spent the day in solitude, resting voice, mind and body.

What I don't understand is this: Why was it okay to overdub those voices way back when, but not any more?  It's not like they hired studio singers at an outrageous amount of money to record safety tracks.  They (the folks on the ship) used a live performance to cover their asses just in case something like this happens.  When we have a contract that lasts over six months, it is bound to happen.  We have been traveling to and from New Zealand, which weather-wise is a mess on allergies and keeping a body healthy.  Not to mention we never get a break, really.  We also went from three months of basically one show a week for the longer cruises, to performing 10 mights a week, out of a 14-day cruise.

Thank goodness my voice has held up.  But between those of us who are reading this, I have to thank my training, and the belief that the show must go on.  The new kids are spoiled.  I'll say it.  They are.

In other news, I went to see my friend, Merle, this past Brisbane.  She is bedridden with cancer, and is now in a rest home.  What an interesting and frustrating story.  Her brother and kids have basically emptied out her house and bank accounts, because they thought she was as good as dead.  She is hanging on.  She's a tough cookie.  The rest home is charging her for spa treatments she doesn't get, and she isn't even allowed to have her personal doctor involved.  Now I don't know how the Australian health care system works, but to me this is outrageous.   Shouldn't her GP who has been her personal doctor for most of her life be involved in the decisions and such?  The doctors she has now are insisting that her scans are "clean" but they won't give her a clean bill of health to go on a cruise, which is what her life is made up of.  Cruises.  That's what she does.  The doctors won't let her see her scans and won't share them with her personal doctor. 

Yikes.  Kind of nightmare.  She is doing well, though I think she was just trying to put on a brave face for me.  I know she is very sick, but I tried to get her to keep eating and start doing more exercises to keep her getting stronger.  Her legs are too weak to hold her up for too long, and therefore she can't walk. 

We are in Auckland again tomorrow, which is a nice city.  I don't have any plans of sorts, but I will be going to see Hobbiton when I am in Tauranga, and then I am hoping to get back to Christchurch while we are in Akaroa.  I'll write more later. 



  1. Hi J. Michael!

    That is terrible stuff about Merle. There SHOULD be a visiting medical officer who comes by once a month to see if any patients have any issues, but again, it is possible that the place Merle is at does not let everyone have the opportunity. Ther is also a Health Ombudsman, but what seems to be Merle's main problem is that her family, which is the people who SHOULD be making enquiries and making waves, doesn't seem to be interested in Merle, only in her stuff. Some families can be bastards.

    J. Michael, just remember that, when you are in Brisbane, and free, that Margaret and I would be very much pleased if you spent some time with us. We will be at the cruise terminal when next the Sun Princess docks (29th December), but we also understand if you go to see Merle again. After that, we will be away for three weeks, but back before 26th January.

    I hope your Christmas is as good as it can be.

    With warmth,

    Norm and Margaret

  2. Thanks, Norm! I can't tell you how much it means to me. Have a great Holiday if I don't get the chance to see you, and I will be in touch before we get back to Brisbane via email...