ABOARD THE REGAL PRINCESS – Broadway’s “unsung heroes” are saluted in the new stage show “Born to Dance” presented aboard the Regal Princess.
The multi-media show has an awesome pedigree. It was produced by Oscar, Grammy and Tony award winner Stephen Schwartz, who composed “Wicked,” “Godspell” and “Pippin.”
The show spotlights a who’s-who of acclaimed choreographers and dancers to trace the journey of the great artists and shows that made musical theater history.
The theater was packed when I arrived after dinner for the 8 p.m. production. Many passengers had gotten there long before show time to be sure of getting a good seat.
The show also was presented at 10 p.m. and I heard it was standing-room-only as well. Although a recurring announcement requested that passengers not save seats for late arrivals, the practice was widely done anyway. I really don’t know what ship staff could do to prevent that but it did cause grumbling among passengers who couldn’t get empty seats that were being saved.
The show ran about 50 minutes with many costume and scenery changes. Starting with a video clip shown on a large screen backdrop, we watched a young man head to a Broadway dance stage. Then the action became live on the ship’s stage to give a glimpse of what it takes to be a dancer – including all the highs as well as the lows.
Video interviews with well-known dancers were shown on the big screen as ship dancers performed in front of the screen. Among the long-time dancers interviewed about the show business profession were Mary Ann Lamb, Ann Reinking and Rachelle Rak.
“I never heard of any of them,” the woman next to me whispered.
That is part of the reason for “Born to Dance” – to feature the high-kicking and often hardly-known hoofers. Without them, stars would have no one to dance in front of, no one to provide background for the main performers.
I knew Reinking because of her long affiliation with Bob Fosse. I remembered Rak as a dancer in the “Cats” national touring company. But as for the rest of the dancers being interviewed, I had no clue.
The show also celebrates theater’s most iconic choreographers and chronicles the progression of choreography from Broadway’s early days to today. Great choreographers featured included Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Bob Fosse, Gower Champion, Michael Bennett, Twyla Tharp and Jerry Mitchell.
Dances from some of Broadway’s favorite hits included “West Side Story,” “A Chorus Line,” “Chicago,” “Oklahoma!” and more.
The career of a professional dancer is often short lived and filled with injuries, dancers said. Rak said she’s got the scars to prove it. Hip, rib and nose injuries and more broken heels than she can count.
Dancing professionally, whether on Broadway or aboard the Regal Princess, requires years of training and immense discipline. On our cruise, the cast of the show included four singers and a dozen dancers from around the world.
The end of the show introduced each of the Regal Princess dancers, giving their names and allowing them to step from the group to get their solo turn in the limelight.
Every ship dancer got a huge round of applause for being “born to dance” and for sharing their talents to entertain us on our cruise.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch