Well, I’m currently sailing my ninth week aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, performing in Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages. It has been a fascinating, exciting, and challenging journey up to this point. For the first six weeks our route consisted of ports in Cape Canaveral, FL, a private island in the Bahamas, and Nassau, and I was clocking in nine performances a week of both shows. Since then, we’ve switched routes to Bermuda, porting for three days at the island, and I’ve been performing eight shows a week. It’s been exciting to get to know these exotic destinations – traveling internationally was something I have always wished to experience, and to be in a job that allows me that luxury is sometimes unbelievable.
Of course, with the luxuries the job provides, there is also a workload to be shouldered, which I am fully feeling the demands of, particularly now. After a microphone malfunction last week prompted me to scream my lines out during a scene in Rock of Ages, my weakened voice powered through the subsequent two performances before pooping out on me the day of a Burn the Floor show. My cover went on that night, and I awoke the next morning to find my voice restored to it’s full capacity. After taking the stage that night for Burn the Floor again, I found my voice sidelined, yet again, the following day. After another full day of rest my voice was back in order, just in time for a double performance of Burn the Floor which – BOOM – knocked my voice out for the third time.
So, I’ve been trapped in a cycle of performing on what seems like a recovered instrument, only to have it compromised by using it prematurely. I am definitely calmed by the fact that it recovers relatively quickly and by the fact that I’ve been experiencing some gnarly acid reflux the past few days, which often contributes to hoarseness. I visited the medical center on the ship, where the on-board doctor pulled me out of performances for 48 hours, and NCL is sending me to an ENT in Bermuda, where I will be scoped to make sure something more serious isn’t happening. I predict that my voice just needs a few extra days of rest to regain it’s resilience and stamina before I can resume my aggressive performance schedule, and I have every confidence that I will be back on stage by next week.
Of course, I feel guilty about burdening my Rock of Ages cast with re-blocking scenes and shifting tracks to compensate for my absence on the stage, but they have been incredibly supportive and understanding. Everyone seems to understand that health is paramount with the performance schedule I’m under, and have been willing to seamlessly alter their standard show to help give me the time to rest and recover. It is endlessly impressive to me how professional and talented everyone in this cast is, and we all seem to have the well-being of the show as a whole at the forefront of our priorities. I say it over and over again, but I don’t think I’ll ever get weary of expressing how grateful I am to be a part of this incredible experience.
Vocal trauma aside, ship life is a blast. As mentioned before, I absolutely adore my cast, and we share plenty of adventures and exploration together. During the first leg of cruises, we frequently found ourselves at Sand Bar in Cape Canaveral, a tiki-tinged dive bar and grill where we celebrated Taco Tuesday with plates of blackened fish and cocktail glasses full of disarmingly potent hurricanes, that came in strength levels from categories one through five. We would often take a tender from the ship to the Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, a private island owned by Norwegian, where we would lay out by a private lagoon, bathing in the tropical sun and swimming through the crystal blue waters. Nassau offered a more tourist-oriented atmosphere, with a craft market filled with woven hats, wood-carved statuary, cheap t-shirts, and hair-braiding stations. I usually got off the ship on my own in Nassau, where I would park at a local restaurant to have a cocktail and take advantage of the free WiFi.
Bermuda is an island that I am looking forward to becoming very familiar with. We port at the Royal Naval Dockyard, which has plenty of attractive options immediately nearby. Snorkel Park is an outdoor restaurant and bar directly on the beach that transforms into a night club in the later evening hours. It is a favorite destination for crew members and passengers from both the Norwegian and Celebrity ships, which ports directly in front of us. During the day, it offers kayaking, mini-golf, private cabanas, and plenty of lounge chairs directly on the beach. There’s a museum next door that offers an opportunity to swim with dolphins in a manmade lagoon, as well as several exhibits that overview the history of Bermuda. The first week we were here, the casts of Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages rented a midnight catamaran that sailed us all around the island, complete with a full bar serving signature drinks, like Dark and Stormys and Swizzles. Another day, we took a ferry out to Hamilton, which offers a long stretch of boutique shops and outrageously priced designer goods.
What I am most looking forward to becoming more acquainted with is the array of beaches nearby. While Snorkel Park offers a sliver of sand to get one’s beach fix, two weeks ago I made my way out to Long Bay with a couple of cast mates, which we took an efficient yet terrifying bus ride to. While most people opt to head to the beach immediately off of the first stop, we opted to walk about a half mile in the opposite direction, where we came upon a sparsely populated stretch of pink sand beach with the most unbelievably turquoise water I’ve ever seen. In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to going cliff jumping in Hamilton and taking ferry rides out to other areas on the island. With four months left to explore, I’m sure Bermuda and I are going to become very close friends.
And rounding out each cruise, we dock every Sunday in NYC just outside of Hell’s Kitchen, where we’re permitted time ashore from 8:30 AM to 3 PM. It is unusual to port in New York City every Sunday, where I get off the ship and assume my “normal life” for six hours a week. At the end of April, I moved all of my belongings from my old apartment into a storage facility in Harlem, where it will remain until I find a new place of residence after the cruise contract ends. My life as a gypsy has officially begun. It is exhilarating to be freed of the constraints of rent and utility bills, to have the ability to go wherever I need to in order to continue working, but as a very home-oriented person, it is uncomfortable not knowing where I will be hanging my hat when my time on the ship comes to an end. So begins the journey of finding a residence with other actors, where subletting is a normal way of life, or subletting my way around the city until a more permanent situation makes itself known.
Although I am very much enjoying my time on the ship, I am also looking forward to being back in New York full-time. I was only in the city for seven months before I uprooted myself to assume the life of a working actor, and I miss the day-to-day life I had in New York. By some freakish stroke of luck, though, I have been granted an opportunity to spend a week in New York this July. I will be taking a week of work leave from the ship and performing in a reading of a brand-new musical that I have been involved with for about a year, which is making its NY debut at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, or NYMF. This is a project helmed by two very close friends of mine in California, and I am thrilled that their hard work is making it’s way to the east coast, where it will undoubtedly be enthusiastically received. And while I will certainly miss the ship (and the paycheck for that week), the creative payoff and the opportunity to stay attached to this project are well worth it, and I’ll get a week to stay in the city that I am still very much in love with.
After that, it’ll be back on the ship until the end of September, during which I will celebrate my THIRTIETH birthday. I am hoping to have a bevy of friends and family on during my birthday week, where we will undoubtedly party our faces off…responsibly, of course, because I’ll still have to perform. This is a birthday that has been looming in front of my for a few years now, and although it is ominous for many, I am actually quite looking forward to hitting this milestone. I couldn’t think of a better place for me to spend my birthday this year, in an environment surrounded by people I love, doing what I love, and living the dream I set out to create for myself last year in California.
After the ship, I am in talks to make my Off-Broadway debut with a production that I was involved with a couple years ago. Rehearsals are slated to begin at the beginning of October, and will take place for six weeks in…guess where…CALIFORNIA! So, after completing this contract, I will have the opportunity to spend time in my hometown, not only working, but enjoying the company of my family and friends for more than just a handful of days. If everything pans out with that production, 2014 will be a year in which I’ve found myself employed for 50 weeks out of the year as a legitimately working performer. It is unbelievable to me that my life has made such a drastic change in such a short amount of time, but it’s exactly what I left California to pursue.
So, as I sit here in BermyBerry (which is Bermuda’s spin on PinkBerry) taking advantage of the WiFi, I look out at the beautiful sky outside and my floating home sitting at the end of the pier and pinch myself over and over. It’s hard to believe that life has afforded me so much incredible opportunity, and, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I am forever grateful.