All aboard the Nieuw Statendam!
In April of 2019, we were lucky enough to climb aboard one of Holland America Cruise Lines newest and biggest ships - The Nieuw Statendam. At 975 ft long and with a capacity of 2666 guests, we knew it was going to be a big and beautiful beast, but even we were surprised by it’s beauty. Like it’s sister ship, the Koningsdam, the Nieuw Statendam has been designed around the theme of Music. From the abstract artwork and musical sculptures, to the extraordinary calibre of musicians onboard. World class singers and musicians everywhere you turn. The ship is like a giant floating marching band of blues, rock n roll, classical and Jazz.
It’s safe to say we loved it from the second we got onboard.
We embarked on a Thursday, and our show was on the Saturday night, which gave us plenty of time to settle into our cabins, have a couple of rehearsals (without disturbing any of our neighbours) and soak up the musical vibes, of which there are plenty. We always make a point of seeing as much as we can, A) To show support to fellow artists, and B) Because we love seeing different things. Especially on a ship like this when everyone is so good!
I’m not going to lie, after watching the stunning classical quartet, and one of the best blues bands I think I’ve ever seen in the unique B.B King Lounge, the nerves set in a bit for our show in a couple of nights time. We strive to put on a perfect show wherever we go, and on this occasion we were surrounded by musical greatness! A perfect show is now the absolute minimum requirement!!
On the Friday night (night before our show) we went along to the theatre to watch the cast show. We always watch the shows, and it’s always a good night. It’s also a great chance for us to see the venue at work, in preparation for our show. Sometimes we’ll come up with new ideas, or interesting stage entrances while we’re sat in the audience. Every venue is different, and with that comes new opportunities to try things.
The theatre onboard the Nieuw Statendam is called The world Stage Theatre. It is a work of art in itself. It features a two-story, 270-degree wraparound LED screen surrounding the entire auditorium. These LED screens interact with the show, and the singers and dancers to create a breathtaking immersive spectacle. Take a look at the two photos we have to accompany this blog, which were taken during our sound check. We only used a fraction of the screens capacity, but it will give you an idea. The sound and lightning equipment is state of the art, and there’s alot of it. Which makes for high quality sound both onstage for the performers, and front of house for the audience. It remains to this day, one of the most enjoyable and impressive theatres I’ve ever performed in.
Show day!! That extra buzz when you wake on the morning of a show day…every single thing you do that day is geared towards the show in the evening. So we try and take it easy. Keep everything focused, but relaxed. We always get at least an hours rehearsal with the band on the day, which actually isn’t much, but these bands are used to it, and highly skilled sight readers. I think it was a 3pm rehearsal. We arrived, introduced ourselves to the tech team and the band. Handed out or sheet music, some of which is quite tricky, and after a few sound tweaks, off we went. The band were good. We knew that from the first 30 seconds. It’s such a relief to know we have a good band behind us. It means we can relax and focus on what we have to do. By the end of the hour we were all happy with how it was sounding. We picked up our bottles of water, pre set our mic stands, had a couple of final clarifications with the sound engineer and off we went to get ready for the show.
First though…a quick snack! That snack, of course turns into a full meal with 3 desserts…any regular cruise-goers out there will appreciate the struggle of meal time will power.
An hour later and the waistcoats are on, hair is sprayed to within an inch of it’s life and we’re on our way backstage. We walk passed our poster on the screens outside the theatre, which is always a cool feeling and slip in through the side door which leads eventually to the backstage area. A cruise ship can be a bit of a maze at times, especially if you find yourself in non-guest areas where nothing is sign posted. I once got lost on my way to my backstage dressing room onboard another ship. I was lost for an hour, and nearly missed the start of my own show! But that’s a story for another blog…
5 minutes to show time and the nerves are jangling around. Vocal warm ups are in full swing and the final preparations to Sams glorious beard are coming to a conclusion.
Mics in hand, and our traditional/superstitious pre show “have good show hugs” completed and we make our way to the stage. Our “Welcome” voice over bellows out around the auditorium, followed by the energetic racing drums of Finesse by Bruno Mars, and we’re off…
10:30pm. A quiet Jazz bar. The four of us sit with our first, and well earned beer. Our shoulders finally relax. Feet a little sore, and voices well used. The show was a huge success. We received a standing ovation, which is such an honour. The principle point of our show is to make our audiences feel good. It’s all about them. We genuinely work so hard to make something special, and care so much about it, that when it’s met with such a response it means the world to us.
Cheers boys! Now, who’s round is it!?