Cruise Shows the Cheesy Standard?
Written by: Paul Motter
I watched the Oscars this year, and I saw the dance bit that Hugh Jackman did with Beyonce. There were top-hats and a few Fosse poses in parts where they really didn’t belong. I couldn’t help noticing Beyonce reprised a few stanzas of her version of “At Last,” the song she sang to Obama on the night of his inauguration – despite the fact that Etta James had sent her a message via the media that “At Last” was her song, and “that young so and so” had no right to “steal” her song.
But here is what gets me about that dance piece. I get a news feed that tracks the words “cruise ship” and sure enough on that day it was flooded with articles about the Oscar show. Why? Because that particular piece was described more than once as being “cheesy enough for a cruise ship show.”
I guess it started in the New York Post where Linda Stasi wrote: “Last night’s Oscar presentation – from the cringe-inducing, bad-taste opening “poor is funny” number that host Hugh Jackman performed like a cheesy cruise-ship entertainer to the endless hours of awards to dull men we’ve never heard of for categories we don’t care about – this “all new” Oscars presentation was like “High School Musical,” the real thing.”
But the cruise ship comparisons didn’t end there.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote, “A later Jackman-fronted medley of movie musical melodies — with guest stars Beyonce, Zac Efron, etc. — would have been more at home on the Tony Awards. Or, perhaps, on a cruise ship.”
The St Joseph News wrote, “Full of rhythmic pep, Jackman announced that the musical was back! Then he took part in a miserable mash of musical snippets that … was like “Cabaret” and the Royal Rumble. It was like Broadway with ADHD. It would have been gold on a cruise ship, but it came off like tungsten in Hollywood. “The musical is back!” Jackman declared. Maybe not for long.”
Even a web site called The Defamer wrote, “Now I’ve been informed by most people I know that the musical numbers made the ceremony appear like the entertainment deck of a cruise ship and therefore should be mocked without mercy…”
Mocked without mercy? Hey, Mr. Defamer, it is obvious you have never even been on a cruise ship or you would know there is no such thing as a cruise ship “entertainment deck.”
Modern cruise ships have state of the art theaters with lasers, vari-lites, elevators and turntables built into the stages, orchestra pits, fly systems for scenery and acrobatic aerial performances and even pyrotechnics.
Nevertheless – I know, I know… I was even thinking the same thing as I watched the Oscars. “This looks like a cruise ship show, and it is well… cheesy.” The media descriptions of “dated musical,” are correct, although I have never seen cruise shows descibed as “tungsten.” Not sure what that writer meant, actually, but I doubt it was good.
But it is still depressing. I worked in the entertainment department of various cruise ships for two years and I wrote this editorial in 2000 where I noted what was wrong with the typical cruise show at the time. But most cruise ship pros will say the shows are better now, especially on the most popular lines.
BUT, cruise shows are still somewhat cheesy — sometimes. And what is the definition of cheesy? Well, let’s analyze the piece in the Oscars show and see…
First of all, the gals were in those stage versions of Fosse-girl tuxedos. Yeah, unless you are young enough to have never seen “All That Jazz,” or you are actually watching a Bob Fosse original, those are cheesy.
Why? Because when Fosse used them they represented a character who was a class act on the outside but a sex-starved strumpet on the inside. That naughty contradiction was part of Fosse’s genius – he invented the genre.
But Fosse had his golden age in the sixties and you can’t dress up a stage couple like Sonny and Cher anymore without it looking cheesy – even if it is meant to be a tribute.
The second cheesy aspect – the “medley.” Medleys are dead as an artform except in cruise ship shows. They are as anachronistic as cat costumes at Halloween. In fact – Jackman shouts out a little embarassingly at the end of the piece “The musical is back,” but in my opinion Mamma Mia was cheesy, too, and Sweeney Todd was a great musical movie that bore no resemblance at all to “Sound of Music.”
Bottom line, the truth is that Oscars number did resemble a cruise ship show – fast paced, “change-em-up” dance steps, quick costume changes, tux-wearing showgirls in lookalike wigs and a “medley of hits.” That the greater media at large chooses to describe that as “cheesy” is something for cruise lines to think about. What do you think?
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