In football, the Head Coach works with Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Coordinators and several speciality coaches to run drills in practise. They create plays for their weekly games and plan all sorts of contingencies. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Production shows are led by their Creative Staff during rehearsals and have a few Captains of their own who take over the artistic integrity of the show once the shows are installed and the “Creatives” leave.
What types of captains do we have in our casts? In After Midnight, onboard the Norwegian Escape, we have a Vocal Captain and a Dance Captain. A Vocal Captain oversees vocal warmups before shows and has rehearsals for any songs in need of, pun intended, tune-ups. Dance Captains oversee the dancing and any physical movement, also known as “staging”.
Some casts, such as For the Record: The Brat Pack, have a Show Captain who assumes the Dance and Vocal Captain duties. Speciality show elements have their own Captains. Priscilla Queen of the Desert on the Norwegian Epic has a Fly Captain overseeing the show’s aerial work. Ships with only one production cast typically have one Dance Captain and one Vocal Captain who maintain the choreography and singing in all their production shows.
All show Captains are appointed by the Creative Staff during rehearsals at the Norwegian Creative Studios in Tampa, Florida. The Creatives consider principal, supporting and ensemble performers for these duties. In the first Priscilla Queen of the Desert cast, the actor performing the leading role of Felicia served as Dance Captain. In the current cast, the Dance Captain is a member of the ensemble.
Just like the coaches and players adapting to injuries or reevaluating an offensive scheme a few drives into a football game, the Stage Managers and Captains are responsible for maintaining the shows. We do so by giving notes after each performance and by having brush-up rehearsals. Captains run these rehearsals for songs, dances or transitions in need of work for safety or aesthetic purposes. Sometimes dancers focus on one or two sequences of a dance and they need a reminder of the story they’re telling throughout the entire musical number. The Captains help bring us back to the basics by reminding us of the Creatives’ original staging and artistic decisions.
Shows like After Midnight blend the lines of personal and set decisions. Many of the tap dances are improvisational or have solo moments. Within certain restrictions for safety and stylistic dance moves that fit the 1920’s jazz era we portray, dancers may change up their solos as often as they like.
Stage Managers and Captains also collaborate to implement any casting changes. This includes mid-contract joining or parting cast members, last minute illnesses or even mid-show injuries! By creating contingency plans and having understudy rehearsals throughout the week, we ensure the cast members whose normal performance routines change under abnormal conditions can do so feeling safe and confident in their performance.
No matter the circumstances, these true team leaders oversee the shows onboard. The Stage Managers and Captains work each day ensuring audiences see the best quality performances possible. Just like sports teams, it takes teamwork, hard work and the overall goals of the production to keep the shows alive and fresh every time a new audience enters the theatre .