Norwegian Epic's Cirque Dreams and Dinner

| May 25, 2009

Norwegian Epic promises to deliver the first successful "Cirque" show at sea.

A few select journalists were treated to a preview of yet another Epic entertainment offering during the Seatrade convention which I had not heard much about previously; Cirque Dreams and Dinner to be presented in another purpose-built venue onboard; the Spiegal Tent on deck six.

Spiegal Tent is a dinner theater two decks high with a circus theme. The show cast will include 16 dedicated performers, an additional 15 to 20 servers with accompanying roles and costumes and a significant amount of audience participation. The dinner is a prix fixe three course with only two options, $20 per person for the front seats or $15 for the back seats. The two hour show is presented in the round - with trapeze and other aerial acrobatics over the heads of the diners.

At the Cirque Dreams rehearsal studio in Pompano, Florida, company director Neil Goldberg told us the idea of creating a dinner show has been a dream for years. He thanked NCL for the opportunity, but also for the tremendous amount of support and especially the freedom the line has allowed him .

Click below for larger images. See the FULL EPIC GALLERY

costume storage Pompano Cirque Dreams   Neil Goldberg Cirque Dreams Director   entire cast plus Neil and Andy Stuart

"People have a certain expectation when they hear the brand 'Cirque Dreams." Neil expounded. "They expect to see contortionists, jugglers and people flying through the air and Epic guests are going to see all that - and so much more. Personally, I have never smiled and laughed so much during the creation of any show as I have with his one."

Neil created Cirque Dreams 20 years ago and already has a long string of successes; from Broadway to two super bowls and each major television network. Neil has worked with artists Vanessa Williams, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Elizabeth Taylor, Christopher Reeves and more.

"This production is a constant work in progress where anything that happens spontaneously may be added to the final script," he went on to say. "The same will be true onboard the ship, the performance will vary nightly depending on the performers' intuition and how the crowd interacts with them," he added. A great deal of audience participation is expected, with a thin line between the roles of the performers and the food and drink servers and the audience itself.

Previewing Cirque Dreams and Dinner

At that point, we were asked to take a seat in the mockup venue. On our tables were fantastic tiered trays of light and dark chocolate dipped strawberries, champagne and party favors.

Click below for larger images. See the FULL EPIC GALLERY

Cirque Dreams n Dinner table setup   Cecil B DaBille   server gets outfitted

The lead character, ringmaster Cecille B. DeBille, was seated on a director's chair in the audience. He begins the show by saying his job is to stage manage an unmanageable troupe of characters. His circus is over budget and understaffed, but they must find a new lead character to save the company.

See a video featuring Cecille B DaBille

That is just the jumping off point. Havoc erupts as guests become part of the show - in the center of the action and surrounded by spectacle.

Among the colorful cast known as the Schpiegal Epicureans are:

  • Sofifi Lauren - a legendary seductress of stage and film
  • Cecil B DeBille - a fumbling, bumbling stage manager
  • Toulouse-LaSoundtrek - Musique Director
  • Rip DeTaylor - Wardrode monsieur extraordinaire
  • Ivana Martini - The Duchess of Drinquemore
  • Chef Aphrodisiac - Garcon de Cuisine
  • Jorge Washaton - Le dish washer
  • Marcel Marsowhat - Silent Film eccentric
  • Leonardo Bernschtein - a mad maestro
  • Lord William DaKiddingMe - Ze swashbuckling pirate
  • Whirlamenia - High Society fashionista
  • Prince Charmaine - A night in shining armoire
  • Cupidity - God of love and celebrity
  • The Patisserie Sisters - Delectable Confectionettes
  • Attila the Fun - Savior of laughter

Our preview continued when Cecil B. DaBille introduced the beautiful Patisserie Sisters, (the Delectable Confectionettes) who perform overhead acrobatics on a trapeze ring. During their performance we were served more champagne and a three-tiered tray of gravity defying cupcakes by servers in character costumes. Maestro Leonardo Bernschtein, the lively costumed violinist was always nearby to embellish the circus music with his masterful execution.

See a video of the Patisserie Sisters.

Click below for larger images. See the FULL EPIC GALLERY

Atilla the Fun   The Strong Men   Patisserie Sisters

The show progressed with more food delivered to our tables, sight gags such as a "frog in the throat" of Cecil B DeBille jumping across the stage and very impressive balancing and acrobatic performance by a team of three Russians known as "The Strong Men" in typical "The World's Strongest Man" striped jumpsuits.

See a video of The Strong Men.

One of the final solo acts we saw was an amazing balancing act by Attila the Fun who managed a handstand while balanced on a tube, settled on a board, squared on a barrel prevaricating upon a bowling ball perched atop a step ladder. I have to say I was more than impressed, I walked away thinking this will be one of the most memorable entertainment offerings yet on a cruise ship - even if it is a "cirque" show.

Ironically, although Cirque D' Soliel of Montreal has succeeded wildly in Las Vegas and elsewhere, many cruise enthusiasts already know similar "Cirque" ideas have already flopped on other cruise ships. Why? they were mostly presented in venues that were too small to execute the aerial acrobatics and uber-juggling that really make real circus shows so impressive.

In my opinion, if this is representative of the quality we will be seeing on Norwegian Epic than I am convinced this ship will take cruise ship entertainment to an entirely new level - raising the bar for all cruise lines. As excellent as the entertainment is aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas with its ice show, Hairspray and the AquaTheater, as a former cruise ship entertainment worker myself I have to say that just based upon what I know and what I have seen so far Norwegian Epic takes the cruise ship entertainment cake.

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