Striking a High Note

Cunard’s ocean liner brings a new level of entertainment

By: Terra Judge

As Queen Victoria prepares to enter service in December, a team of 16 classically trained singers and dancers is already rehearsing four major theatrical productions that will form the core of the ocean liner's inaugural entertainment schedule. From concept to curtain, Cunard will have spent nearly two years crafting the shows.

“What Cunard presents is on a par with the highest caliber of world class productions,” said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line, referencing the line's legacy of premium onboard entertainment. “From the set decor and talent to the beautiful costumes by renowned theatrical designers, the work reflects a deep understanding of our guests’ cultural intellect. Our investment in entertainment is considerable and includes every aspect of the experience, from the sight lines in the theatre to the hand-selected creative team.”

Time and effort also went into designing the Royal Court Theatre, a three-tiered venue, to live up to the productions.

“We looked at several theatres and were inspired by the spectacular spaces designed by noted English theatrical architect Frank Matcham, whose dramatic multi-tiered spaces made him one of the most prolific theatrical architects of all time,” said coordinating architect Giacomo Mortola. “In every sense, the Royal Court Theatre captures that same feeling of grandeur and luxury.”

Among the theatre's features is the collection of sixteen private boxes the first-ever at sea that frame the stage and afford 48 guests exclusive seating from which to enjoy the performances. Seating for two to eight guests each, depending on the size, the boxes are furnished with armchairs and cocktail tables. Individual-sized Veuve Clicquot bottles and sweet or savory treats (depending on the show time) are served by white-gloved theatre ushers. Following the performance, guests have an opportunity to meet the cast backstage.

The entertainment itself is varied. Victoriana, a show that set at the time of the apex of the British Empire, pays tribute to milestones of the era. Victoriana captures Music Hall memories with character performances, contemporary choreography and period costumes. After each Victoriana performance, guests can visit the Queens Room for a Royal Victoriana themed ball.

Dance Passion celebrates the world of dance with international dancers and diverse choreography, from Gene Kelly and swing to the Argentine Tango, Salsa and Samba.

Cunard tapped Dmitri Iliukhin, choreographer and former Riverdance performer, to showcase Celtic performances. Featuring a mix of original and traditional Irish music, song and dance, the show tells the story of a young Irishman and his search for fortune. The show features two principle dancers, four singers who take the role of the narrators and a full dance ensemble.

A Stroke of Genius pairs world-famous works of art with popular music. The eclectic show features a blend of Andy Warhol and the Rolling Stones, Edward Hopper's American Realism and the music of Hoagy Carmichael, and ballerinas against a backdrop of Edgar Degas’ French Impressionist paintings.

The productions are the work of the same team who produce acclaimed shows for sister ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2.

In addition to the production shows, Singers in Concert brings the combined orchestras of the Queens Room and Royal Court Theatre together for a concert-style show combining classic standards, contemporary songs and original musical arrangements. The light-hearted musical presentation features songs by Burt Bacharach, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Gilbert O'Sullivan and others.