Dancer, Singer? Casting for Shows at sea – We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia

I have spent nearly 50 years in the entertainment and now visit the ships to talk about it and am bombarded by questions. Not least because now both my daughter and son in law have bigger profiles than me and also work in VIDEO GAMES as actors – yes acting in Video Games – it has all changed. So I have updated this blog as it has been so popular and dealt with a few more questions. You may start your career at sea and if lucky work in MoCap! If you have not met me in the flesh, this is me, Stuart, please do come up and chat when you see me on board a ship. Here is a film I made in New York about a movie I shot – American Werewolf in Paris.


If you are in dance or theatre school, one of the main areas if not THE main area of work available will be at sea, travelling the world. The new Celebration and Discovery 2 Show Teams from Peel Entertainment are almost ready to step on board and see the world. Both teams have had a very successful 3-month rehearsal period on land at Peel. The 2017/18 Winter season, is ‘Medleys from the Musicals’, ‘Vegas Live’ and ‘Putting on the Glitz’ (with Anton Du Beke!). These are the new exciting concepts from one of the top suppliers of entertainment at sea. Peel Talent are specialists in hiring singers, dancers, entertainment & kids hosts and backstage crew for fantastic live entertainment opportunities across the world. They are after the best multi-talented performers, guest acts, hosts, musicians, backstage crews and studio staff anywhere in the world to work anywhere in the world delivering award-winning entertainment. But, you need to have talent to join the best.


Think of your long term career path, because you will always be looking for the next job, such is the nature of this industry. Choreographer, Entertainments Manager, or Stunt Person. Many dancers become stunt people, Sarah Franzl was a fantastic dancer who joined my stunt team years ago and is now one of the world’s top stunt coordinators. She started her career at college with Hilary O’Neil. Ask Hilary or myself when you see us on board. Most ambitious performers are looking for the next gig, but the global view is looking for the next career move. When I am on ship I am constantly asked by the dancers and show cast how they get into other work like Voice-overs and MoCap (MoCap! What? Stay with me I will explain). Some want to use their flexibility and timing to get into stunts. I have just returned from an Adriatic Cruise and stopped in Dubrovnik, the heart of Game of Thrones, where many of the stunt players I trained have been working. Do I miss it? No, not really, you have to realise it is a great show, but just another great show and it is a young industry. I am enjoying my time doing after dinner gigs and ships. When on the Strictly cruises I talk of the days making iconic pop videos with Arlene and Bruno. It is a small circular world and making the Game of Thrones special film we did with Jean, that was cool.


If you are training in the arts, then have half an eye on the future, half an eye on where the work is if you wish to take it up as a long term profession. I have grown up in theatres and with a family and all our friends in the industry, my wife Jean Heard was in the West End in No Sex Please We’re British for years and got the afternoon and evening off only for our wedding. When I was directing the movie The Scarlet Tunic my father died and I had Simon Callow for just three days in a tight schedule, so missed my father’s funeral. It is a ruthless non forgiving industry, where insurance companies keep notes on you and your fellow workers will gazump you in the queue for that one job. Life is not a rehearsal, in fact in film and TV we more than often never rehearse. So, looking forward my daughter Laura Aikman has now got the bug and has just been in the ITV show LIAR but is more famous at Comicon for being in Games!

In all film and entertainment you will have to work away from home. Those who have a dream of working in the movies may be shocked than many people turned down Lord of the Rings because the initial contract was 17 months in New Zealand. It turned out to be three years and many stayed there to do Narnia and did not come home. Broken families are a thing of the entertainment industry and perhaps the previous few lines will explain that you may never work anywhere near home ever again. You are going to join the entertainment circus. Theatre is strong again with many successful West End and Broadway shows. The reason they want to be hits is so they can cash in on tours and royalties from amateur productions. Hey, did you know, that there is a definition of an on-Broadway show and an Off-Broadway show. On-Broadway is a New York theatre with more than 500 seats. Off-Broadway is a theatre with between 100-500 seats. An off-off-Broadway show has less than 100 seats. How big are cruise ship theatres? BIGGER !!!!!

The Britannia has a 950 seat theatre, some ships are bigger. They all put on big shows, but the bigger the ship, the bigger the theatre, the more paying passengers, the more they can have the bigger shows. There are different shows in different areas of the ship, not just the theatre. Carnival as a company who own many cruise ship ‘brands’ as do the Royal Caribbean and between them they put on many whole shows like We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia and smaller shows on smaller ships. Then then have the top, I mean the leading man and lady top top solo artists perform as solo artists singing in the theatres. At sea is where the public, the working public now watch entertainment and it has taken the place of the workingmen’s clubs and variety theatres with the cruise ship pub or night club, and taken the place of the theatre with their own huge tiered palladiums. Royal Caribbean Productions hold general auditions, click here. The audition demand and audition female pack, male pack for singers can be found here, and you must be able to sing all genres and in foreign language. You may have bias towards comedy and you can watch first hand some of the best comedians working. Carnival audition at Pineapple in London.


Want to be listed on Everyone is, then maybe do a bit on one of our films or be interviewed because all Doris Visits films are eventually listed which will get you listed. The industry works on listing, numbers, profile and it starts here on board. Make an amusing video at a cruise destination that passengers will love and let us feature it. Cruise ships have some of the entertainment industries most innovative shows (and hence people) and are always seeking exceptional singers, dancers, aerialists, ballroom couples, DreamWorks character performers, Olympic level gymnasts, hand balance acts, divers, high divers, synchronized swimmers, BMX cyclists, musicians, and ice skaters to be a part of Royal Caribbean Productions outstanding entertainment program. They do mean exceptional and this is where you discover that excellence is judged and means work. I played golf and had lunch with two of top ballet dancers and agent Derek Webster this week. Andrew Ward is Artistic Director of the London Boys’ Ballet School which has 220 of the countries top boy ballet dancers. We all agreed that those with attitude to do more, to train all week then perform are the ones who make it. On the way to the course, I listened on to Talk Sport where they were saying the same of Harry Kane, the Spurs star and other footballers who make it train more than the others. David Beckham allegedly trained for an extra couple of hours most days taking shots so he could be the best. So when the cruise ships say are looking for technically strong, appealing, energetic, and dynamic performers the cruise lines mean it. They put on the best shows, they want the best people they can get. Take a look at the early auditions of X-Factor and you will see the many that genuinely think they have something, then they stand next to and perform against those who do have something and the difference is obvious. Being able to self critise and self improve is essential and it takes more than huge super human effort. Cruise lines offer competitive salaries and contracts that vary in length but are normally rolling over at half yearly intervals. The rehearsals periods are paid and when on ship you will see the world it sounds good and it is good. But, it may not be the party party boozing party you imagine because as crew you have life boat duties so technically you are on call at any time, and as such under maritime law, like drink driving laws, you are not supposed to drink beyond a certain blood alcohol level. That is not to say you don’t have a crew pool, a crew Jacuzzi and crew discos and parties, lay on the beach and see the world. You do, but you will work a very full week, and on top of that you can either train in the gym or lay in the sun. Where would Beckham or Kane be. Andrew Ward told me when he got the chance to dance at Covent Garden he knew every male lead part just in case someone else went sick, and that was how he got his first break as a lead. If you are a musician you might end up being a composer, take a look at Mark Blackledge our composer and his stable as a home studio.

How many ships are there out there? More than there are theatres in the West End and Broadway…. and they all have musicals. They all have musicians, but, you have to be able to read dots and play instantly as the cabaret acts change daily, you learn a different act daily, you play a different show daily. Who knows, as the ship offers everything, you might be asked to put on a show at a wedding, cruise ships are now offering same sex marriages.


So, as they all look so young, and stage and dance schools turn out thousands of hopefuls each year your neck muscles will never tire of looking over your shoulder, no matter how old or established you get in the entertainment industry. So, as some beaver forward and others lay in the sun, who moves on and where to. No doubt many become very very good entertainment managers on ships or in hotels as others put together their solo or tribute shows watching and learning from the industry’s best. Others want to work in MoCap and voice…. what is that? Well, the film and TV industry is getting smaller and smaller and paying less and having less standards. We all look at the many channels and say there is nothing on, just as there are now so few watching. As an industry it is worth between 25 and 35 billion a year, compared to sport about 45 billion and games industry about 75 billion. There are actors who only ever work in video games. Voice and moving for MOTION CAPTURE – or MoCap. For that you need the talents, the experience and again how do you get it? You will see the ships asking for Olympic level gymnasts (you will meet Olympians on board as guest celebrities), hand balance acts, divers, high divers, synchronized swimmers, BMX cyclists just like the theme parks, these are the modern entertainment venues where many stage school graduates will work. Some may become stunt performers and go on to work in great shows like Game of Thrones, but here is where you learn. The stage at sea is where you might start but the stars is what you will aim for – you will see them laying on deck at night and you will dream. Work hard, watch and learn everything and don’t miss.

Start by doing some research, look at the ships, look at the shows and performers and we on Doris Visits list more and more. Menu. Also see our great entertainment page. Use this site and research the industry before you go to an audition, let them know you want it and you are good enough. Take a look at the show page for We Will Rock You. Good luck. The cruise operations manual might be a bit serious, but if you do well and climb the tree you may well become an entreatments manager on ship.


Check out some of the great Cruise Routes, our concise films of what a ship offers when it takes a specific route. These are typical routes but we do have films to help cruisers on every popular cruise destination in the world.                                                             Baltic RouteCanary Islands Cruise – New England Cruise – Caribbean Cruise (from Barbados) – Norwegian Fjords – Mediterranean Routes

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