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BWW Interview: Richard Ambrose Talks Norwegian Cruise Line’s Entertainment and Broadway-Caliber Productions

Richard Ambrose is the Vice President, Entertainment for Norwegian Cruise Lines. He oversees the Entertainment Departments for Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruise Lines. Under Ambrose, Norwegian has emerged as a cruise line with top-notch amusement, consisting of Broadway-quality productions.

Norwegian has these days debuted its newest deliver, the Encore, which functions productions of the musicals Kinky Boots and Choir of Man, which Ambrose facilitated as head of Entertainment.

Ambrose took the time to talk with us approximately Norwegian, its leisure services, and the way he runs his department!

What drew you to Norwegian [Cruise Lines]?

I definitely started out with some other cruise line. I got headhunted out of New York, once I labored in New York on Broadway In 2007, I commenced with Norwegian. When I become interviewing, I asked, ‘What do you need?’ and they stated ‘Broadway’ and I instructed them, ‘You can’t have Broadway, Broadway’s in New York.’ But I knew what they wanted. They wanted the expertise and I noticed on the time we had plenty of work to do. So, I got here up with a 5-year plan. And the remarkable element approximately Norwegian Cruise Line is that once they say some thing, they lower back it up. I stated I needed five years and I had to carry the entirety in house, from a innovative and production angle.

So they constructed Norwegian Creative Studios, which we rehearse out in Tampa. When I came to the cruise industry, I changed into like, ‘Why does it take to 3 weeks to mount a 45-minute overview?’ I used to do seven truck indicates and we’d load in in 18 hours. I don’t get what is happening right here. Basically what it changed into that they weren’t organized, so Norwegian Creative Studios actually prepares them. By the time they’re leaving we’ve performed a full get dressed practice session inside the Studios. When they come aboard the deliver, they do a tech run, they do a get dressed run and that they begin commencing up. One forged leaves and the other solid comes on. For all intents and purposes, it is a national tour.

Watching it ultimate night, I felt like I become at my local performing arts theater seeing a national tour and no longer being on a cruise ship. And I was announcing earlier than that I’ve been on cruises in the past wherein you spot productions and it doesn’t feel… It seems like a cruise ship production, wherein this feels so much greater.

Thank you, due to the fact that’s what we are trying to accomplish. I say we are the sector’s biggest local theater. And the entire premise of the way I built the entertainment, and the specially the theatrical operation, is that the entirety must be first-rate pleasant manufacturing. We want to supply the expertise, but the talent may not come unless we’ve the production values. Myself and my complete theatrical group, we’re all ex-theatrical dancers, so one of the first matters I did in regard to getting the talent to come in changed into the shoes.We actually commenced with the shoes. We have DeLuca footwear, so it’s pinnacle of the line. For the production value, simply from a costuming perspective, we begin from the toes all of the way to the pinnacle. It’s millinery, it’s cosmetology, it is the whole package and caboodle. You are acting in quote-unquote Broadway-first-class productions here at Norwegian Cruise Line.

How did you pick what to trim out for the shortened run time for Norwegian Encore’s manufacturing of Kinky Boots?

We go lower back to the original writers, the original creatives and that they make the cuts for us. We genuinely do trim up in order that the audience gets the integrity of what the authentic manufacturing is.

So humans who’ve seen it may not say, ‘Oh, they took out that song,’ and as a substitute it is, ‘Oh, it’s just a little bit of the fats has been trimmed off.’

Exactly. It’s actually vital for us due to the surroundings we work in, we have to make it a one-act production. One of the things while we were doing “Jersey Boys,” Des McAnuff was there and turned into like ‘This actually works.’ We cut a scene here, a scene here and it really works, it flows without a doubt properly.

How do you select the productions you need to stage to your cruise ships?

Number one is, “do I suppose my target audience will like it?” It has to have a familiarity. They ought to be familiar with the music or they must be familiar with the context of it. And then sooner or later I cross ‘can we do it? Can it’s reduce?’ But on the equal time, when I noticed “The Choir of Man” in Adelaide, Australia, I changed into like, ‘I’m gonna have this.’ “Six the Musical,” people don’t know “Six,” but they’re going to understand “Six” very soon.

When I heard the assertion approximately Six heading to Norwegian Crusie Lines, I turned into greatly surprised because you never see a show on a cruise deliver before it comes to Broadway. How did take place?

I saw it in Edinburgh on the Edinburgh Festival. And then finally saw it at the West End at Theater Arts. And I turned into like ‘I’m going to get the display.’ And then with my relationships inside the community, I were given added to Kenny Waxman, who’s the lead manufacturer on the time, and then Andy Barnes. I started talking to the manufacturers and that they stated, ‘Oh, you are one folks’ due to the fact I’m a theater guy. Then I explained what we do at Norwegian Cruise Line, and the way it’d be pinnacle great and could hold the emblem standards in their manufacturing, so hiya took the risk of producing it. We have it at the Norwegian Bliss and we just opened at the Norwegian Breakaway, so we’ve got productions of “Six: The Musical” prior to Broadway, that’s massive. In truth, there may be people on Cruise Critic pronouncing they may be gonna ebook because “Six” is on.

I understand the Broadway manufacturing has American accents for Six, in contrast to the West End manufacturing. What does yours have?

We’re British. We are casting out of the United Kingdom and Ireland. We’re looking at Australia. We have a three manufacturing deal, and we have “Six” taking place to the Norwegian Epic in November of 2020. We’ll be doing six casts a 12 months as it’s every six months for a cast. So we’re going to be doing six casts a 12 months.

It’s unique that you can see it for your cruises the manner it turned into made in England.

It is. “Six: The Musical” for us is a huge forestall for Norwegian Cruise Lines. It says a lot about what Norwegian Cruise Line leisure is all approximately. And greater importantly, it’s that the theatrical network has really embraced what we’re doing out here and desires to companion with us. Because when I started 12 and a half of years in the past, I couldn’t even get a lower back telephone call. And these are my pals, humans I labored in New York with. And now producers are calling us, so we are doing some thing proper. And we are extremely proud of what we do.

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