Posted by: Ali Davis | March 31, 2008

Saturday, March 29

It’s the end of a long sea day – a good one, in my opinion. It’s been long and warm and faintly rainy. Sort of nice, though that pisses off the passengers, who want perfect weather the second they set foot on the gangway.

I like the first sea day after Miami because it gives me time and space to get settled after the bustling of running errands and trying to find odd errandy things like clothesline and wrapping paper in a strange town and wrapping up my company manager duties for the last cruise and starting them for the next one.

My duties aren’t crazy huge, or anything. Just general staying on the ball. I’m the pivot point between the cast and the ship, so mostly I’m relaying information. I have a meeting with the tech crew on the first night of the cruise, which is the only time I feel odd. Everyone is friendly, but other than me it’s a total sausage fest, and those sausages are dressed in black and wearing their crew badges, whereas I am dressed in summer wear and am required to remove my badge in passenger areas. I like our techs a lot, which is good because they can really make or break a show.

They’re fun and care about things going right and Juanito was EXTREMELY polite in our meeting about mentioning that we could be a little better about finding our light in spots. Which is a valuable piece of information – he could just hold his tongue and hit the light cues and phone in the show – and he delivered it like it was an apology. He’s a good guy. They all are.

Richard is our backstage tech and he cracks me up something fierce. He cackles and cackles at the scenes he likes, and during our last show we caught him dancing to the per-show music and we danced with him for a bit, because that’s what we do. He kept right on dancing with us, which made me happy. He also quotes our punchlines back at us and teases me with ever-sillier substitutes for the much-abused stand that we use for the Pictionary scene.

Today we had an improv rehearsal even though we didn’t have a show tonight, a practice that baffles all NCL-ers who come into contact with it. The general rule – other than for the Adage couple and the acrobats from the dance company – is to rehearse on the day of your show and that’s that. But this cast gets along well, and our shows on the 9-day cruises are shoved up together on two nights at the very end, and no one wants to go stale during that time.

There’s always a show in the main theatre, and there aren’t many big spaces where one can close a door, so we hold our improv rehearsals in the conference rooms where corporate people who got tricked into almost having a vacation have to sit and watch Powerpoint presentations.

The three meeting rooms can be turned into two or, I suppose, one, so there are just partitions between them, so a certain amount of our rehearsal preparation involves silent hoping that no one important is next door when we’re chanting “Hey, Fred Schneider! What are you doing?” as a warm-up.

Two improv rehearsals ago, we were (oops!) next door to a meeting involving the Hotel Director while we were working on a game called “Sing It!” He’s a sweetheart, which, thank God, because he’s one of the big bosses on the ship, but he did pop his head in to inquire as to when the cats would be finally put out of their misery.

But in the end it was good, because he enjoys dropping jokey e-mails and now he has material. We’re friends with him and with the Concierge, partly because they’re both sweet guys, and partly because we’re willing to go to the VIP party that happens on the first sea day of every cruise.

The idea that we were doing them a favor by hitting the VIP party was confusing to us for a while, but they need good minglers, which we’re learning to be, and I guess we’re considered sparklies for the guests. It’s, again, a little weird, since it’s the officers, the managers, and us, but we don’t mind – there’s champagne if we’d like a glass, and we usually meet at least one really fun person per cruise.

Tonight I made the mistake of getting a little too ambitious. The big Texan with the American flag tie was sitting alone and seemed bored, so I went over to chat. He asked where I was from, and when I mentioned Virginia as one of the many home states I claim, he said “Ah. Virginia is the second most interesting state in the nation.” And then he was off, hitting all six flags that have flown over Texas and making pointed remarks about the “War of Northern Aggression.” My fellow cast members sized up the situation and fled, correctly saying in their defense that they couldn’t have extracted me from that conversation with anything short of a flamethrower.

So even though I’ve tried to change my theme to Mingling with the Passengers this contract, I’ll be doing a certain amount of hiding and/or fleeing this cruise. Feels like old times.

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