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Cruise Ships And Entertainment

Almost every cruise ship has entertainment. Here are some of our favorite entertainers over the years…

Allure-ChicagoThe signature production on Allure of the Seas reminded us what a terrific musical Chicago is — guess that's why it's been around for almost 40 years!

Riviera-FlamencoNot actually "on" the Oceania Riviera, this Flamenco dancer turned everyone's head at the then-new ship's christening ceremony on the Barcelona waterfront.

Navigator-Unexpecteds The Unexpected Boys, from an organization of tribute acts (The Four Seasons), on Navigator of the Seas

Unexpected Boys…and off-stage, where they have real names (left to right): Nick Celona, Aaron Young, Doug Carpenter and Scott Pearson.

Crown- Tony Tillman, named Princess Entertainer-of-the-Year on the Crown Princess, was inspired by the late Sammy Davis Jr. and has made a career playing him.

Blue Man Until seeing Blue Man Group on the Norwegian Epic, we might have considered this one scary act…but what a funny, entertaining show.

Glory Dayz-1A talented group from Rhode Island, Glory Dayz seemed headed for a bright future in cruising after spending a week auditioning on Explorer of the Seas.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

MSC Divina
7 nights
March 7, 2015
Miami (return): St. MaartenSan JuanBahamas
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $49
www.msccruisesusa.com

Expect the Unexpected on Navigator

We watched a show on the Navigator of the Seas called “The Unexpected Boys.” We had no idea what to expected, as it should be, except that it was a musical featuring the works of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. We’d seen Valli perform, live and in person at age 70. Yes, in his Fifth Season, you might say.

As it turns out, everything about this show is, well, unexpected.

For example, it has four gifted performers, in this case named Scott Pearson, Nick Celona, Doug Carpenter and Aaron Young. Even they didn’t know what to expect.

“We met,” laughs Scott, “on the gangway.”

They come from a company called Bella Notte Productions, and there are about 30 Unexpected Boys at last count. The owner is Brian Noonan, who took his Broadway credits down the street in New York and started his business in 2007.

“At one time,” explains Aaron, “there were seven groups performing on cruises. Everybody was out except the L.A. guys.”

Carpenter is the only bonafide L.A. guy in this group, because that’s home. Young is from Anchorage, Celona from Oklahoma and Pearson from Pittsburgh. The show is not connected to Jersey Boys, a Broadway performance that’s more of a tribute detailing the amazing story of the Four Seasons, and has won 76 Tony Awards doing it.

The Unexpected Boys is not the story of the Four Seasons…it’s a story of four boys, told around the familiar music. Ironically, Jersey Boys and Bella Notte are office neighbors in New York.

These Unexpected Boys, whose energy and engaging skills take cruise-ship entertainment to a high level, have taken different paths to sailing the Western Caribbean on the Navigator.

Scott Pearson, with the falsetto voice that echoes Valli’s, now lives in the Big Apple in search of a Broadway career. He once auditioned for Jersey Boys and remembers it like this:

“They said hurry up and wait until somebody gets sick. I auditioned for Jersey Boys, for Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli. I had to audition in front of Frankie Valli. He’s got a cool head of hair for 74. He’s still chasing the music. He does a solo act and he’s got four guys down in front doing all the things that the Four Seasons do. He’s a nice guy.”

That he would wind up playing Valli in a production like Unexpected Boys was…again, unexpected.

“I was not a singer or an actor,” he says. “I was a classical pianist. I taught classical piano. I still do. I give piano lessons. I have a piano and voice studio in my apartment, for survival.”

Nick Celona’s was already on the Navigator. Somewhere near the Canary Islands, he got en email asking if he’d like to stay on the ship.

“My mom taught me how to sing,” he explains. “She owns a dance studio and I go back to Oklahoma once a month to do the choreography. That’s how I pay the bills. I want to be on Broadway just once. I don’t care if the show closes on opening night. I want to hit the dream.”

Yet it’s not his passion.

“That’s golf,” he adds. “I like my job with kids because it’s after school, so I can go out and play 18 holes at nine o’clock and still be there. I’m a scratch golfer. That’s my passion. It takes a lot of work, and I don’t play much in New York. If I was in Oklahoma, I’d play every day. I’ve been playing since I was four.”

Aaron Young left Anchorage for “home.”

He explains: “I was always drawn to big-city life. I took theater in school and I got the bug. I knew I wanted to move to New York. At the University of Northern Colorado, I studied musical theater. It worked out, so I’m riding the ride. Baby steps. When I went to New York in middle school, I said ‘This feels like home.’ I don’t know how I was born in Alaska.”

The ride also includes the inevitable part-time job, as an office assistant for a marketing company with a heart — its loyalty and leniency enables Young to be gone when he needs to be, in pursuit of his dream.

“We’re all pursuing the theatrical thing,” Aaron adds. “It’s a side gig. I love traveling and working on something artistic. I do other theater shows, and I’m a cross-country runner. I enjoy New York. You can never explore everything in New York.”

From the opposite side of the country, Doug Carpenter wears the same loyalty on his sleeve.

“I’ve only been gone five days and I miss L.A.,” he says. “I want to teach voice in a college in LA. I want to stay in the sunshine. My background is in opera, but the whole doo-wap sound is timeless. Strong melodies transcend generations. So it appeals to young people, too. I like to work with kids’ opera, and I have a church job.”

Like the others, he knows this gig has a life:

“It’s part-time for everybody. It’s an unexpected call when it comes…THE Unexpected Call.”

So is the curtain call. The opening scene of the Unexpected Boys is not so much scripted as it’s customizable…and we’re not going to tell you precisely what that means because, if you ever get a chance to see this show on the Navigator (or anywhere else), we’d prefer you think that the opening is just what we thought it was.

Unexpected.

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