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Archive for November 25th, 2009

The Universe Lounge

2009-11-25Where in the world am I today?: St. Maarten aboard the EMERALD Princess

I was working on the ISLAND Princess last week which is one of just two ships in the Princess Fleet (The CORAL Princess being the other) that are home to The Universe Lounge. This is one of my favourite venues to play on Princess Ships and ironically the cruise director had me work exclusively in the Princess Theatre… A bit odd, but what’cha gonna do?

So what makes The Universe Lounge one of my favourite venues to play? Well, for one, it’s a great space for jugglers as the ceiling height is significant enough to allow you to do just about everything you could possibly want to do. The lounge is set up rather like the Explorer’s Lounge on other ships, but the Universe had a second level of balcony seats and the ceiling goes up a full two decks which is awesome! The stage (although it’s a bit hard to see from the image because the curtain is down, thrusts out into the audience as well which puts you right in the middle of the audience which, coming from my street performance background feels completely intuitive and natural.

Like the stages in the VISTA Lounge on other Princess Ships, the stage in the Universe Lounge can be raised and lowered. There are actually several different sections to the stage that can be raised and lowered independently of each other and have been very effectively incorporated into a show featuring Broadway/Television Actor, Adrian Zmed. Unlike other venues however, the ceiling height is such that there’s no need to lower the stage in the Universe Lounge when I pull out my tall unicycle. There’s plenty of room to work even with the stage at normal height.

The seating on the main level of the lounge are arranged with tables and chairs as well as sofas providing a cabaret style experience for the audience. This is means a slightly lighter audience density than in the traditional raked rows of seats found in the main theatre, but  it also lends itself nicely to a slightly less formal setting which is well suited to the style of show that I perform. Drink service is also provided by a bar at the back of the room, so after a drink or two people are usually in a pretty good mood by the time the show starts.

Technical support in Universe Lounge is usually provided by three individuals much the way it is in the VISTA Lounge on other ships. You’ve got one guy back stage to assist if needed, one guy who runs the sound and lights and a third who acts as the over all watch-dog of the show, usually the production manager who ensures the overall smooth running of the show. Although I never really put to great a demand on the production team, they are there to make sure that the shows are the best that they can possibly look and that everything runs smoothly.

For about the last week I’ve been aboard the EMERALD Princess working in the Piazza, which might well be my favorite venue to play, but any time I’m offered the chance to play on either the CORAL or the ISLAND I jump at it and keep my fingers crossed that I’ll be playing in the Universe Lounge.

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