In my years aboard ship as a CD I often wondered why all the generic entertainment. Now, I am not of the entertainment / performer CD genre...I was more an administrative, social and operational style CD, so I cannot be too critical of onboard talents.
A few issues that were common, and perhaps a hinderance to onboard entertainment may include:
Revue cast were often somewhere between on stage diva and library monitor. Both in skill and in talent. Can you hire cheap (relatively) cast, expect high quality stage appeal, AND require them to host a shuffleboard tournament? Multi tasking is usually a requirement for onboard contracts....but does it hinder thier primary purpose?
Guest & Celebrity Entertainers can be gracious and a huge draw to the passengers. However, most of the guest entertainers I encountered were very high maintenance and did not want to be 'captive' with thier audience outside of the actual performance. That would result in disappointed passengers who wanted to mingle with them while onboard.
Talent drives demand, talented performers are likely not to be interested in the routine of cruise products. They can get bookings anywhere and can move on. Cruise ships are finely tuned devices...disruption in routine, operation and the unknown acceptance of new talent is not welcomed openly by most ships. A constant turn over in entertainment can be stressfull to the ship's operation. I know each time we had a cast change (every 6 months or so), it would be weeks before the new cast settled into the routine. Oh, some disastrous shows I remember, and Stage Managers sedating themseleves!
But this thread brought a question to mind.... In all the ships I have worked aboard, sailed aboard as a passenger...which show really stands out? I remember a time as CD aboard Celebrity's Horizon, on a summer Bermuda season, we had Peter Gordeno (popular mostly in Britain). The revue cast onboard was his own production company. Although the production shows were generic, HIS show truely brought a unique composition of his singing, accompanied with the dancers. In a very poor analogy, I'd say he had a bit of a Tom Jones style, but it was definately of the caliber I would expect to see in Vegas, even if on a smaller scale. We had standing ovations EVERY performance. I watched EVERY show. The man was gracious, kind, cooperative and understanding to shipboard operations & life.
To this day, whenever I hear a rendition of "Get Ready", I think of his show and the moves of those dancers. Not many shows onboard have had that kind of impact.
Today, when I cruise fo vacation, I poke my head in the showlounge for a minute or two, and before I know it, I am singing in my head the number on stage. I chuckle to myself and remember a term a Stage Manager and I once coined... "JASS!" (Just Another Ship Show!)