21 August 2015

Not Shakespeare but

Another night, another show. Cruise life is unconnected with reality, even if you touch on islands and countries. You come to look forward to dinner and drink too much in social lubrication. Not all bad, as the interaction can carry some worthy messages, especially around a bar or perhaps around a maudlin piano-man. And every ship has its theatre and lays its claims for the quality and Broadway-derivation of its theatrical products. It’s Broadway not Stratford-upon-Avon, but it can be good and even emotionally satisfying. Swing City didn’t really have a theme other than that dance has been around a long time or a plot other than a few performers, presumably in order. But what performers, what performance, what swing! The theme tune was Ellington’s It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing and it was a marker for the start and end. Then onwards through a rage of tunes form swing band to croon and doo-wop, viewed as fashion and entertainment with a wry eye perhaps, but great arrangements fabulously performed. The band was again tight as, back of stage, setting the performance but also distant in concentration. I particularly loved the bass, lithe and playful at times and always present and firm and drums which revelled in time and come outgoing flourishes to end. They supported eight dancers (4xmale; 4xfemale) and four singers (2xmale; 2xfemale; I guessed ~SATBaritone). Quick change costumes and groupings and vocal/dance features; short stories presented in lyrics and portrayed in dance and song; place spelt out with costume; dance placed in social context. I just revelled in the expertise in all this: the immensely great American songbook written in busy and demanding arrangements and played with precision and sung and danced with skills and professional joy. Somewhat later they would explain it as “only rock and roll but I like it”, and yet to come will be some line for rap, I guess. Not Shakespeare and not even Broadway of the ilk of West Side Story or Oklahoma. But this was musical theatrics and it was done so well.

Swing City was presented by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers with the Legend of the Seas Orchestra in the That’s Entertainment theatre. No, not Shakespeare, but.

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