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Magic in the making: taking a show from shore to ship


We speak with Entertainment Production Show Manager Adam Jenkins, who tells us what it takes to bring a show from shore to ship.


Performers rehearsing for an on-board show

Creating a brand-new show from scratch is an ambitious undertaking at the best of times. But add to that a constantly moving stage, a multitude of shows to produce at the same time and mere weeks to bring it all together, and that undertaking seems nearly impossible.


Yet somehow, Adam Jenkins and his team make it look easy. Adam is Carnival’s entertainment production show manager. He oversees the process of creating a new show, from concept right through to execution; he also looks after the day-to-day operation of The Academy, Carnival’s state-of-the-art purpose-built rehearsal facility in Southampton.


With so much to consider, where does it all begin? ‘The first hurdle is the concept,’ says Adam. ‘My team and I will sit around a table and discuss ideas, whether they come from music, an illusion or a trick – something to hang our hat on.’ From there, Adam chooses the team that will work on that particular show, from the director to the choreographer to the lighting and sound designers. Then it’s on to the cast auditions, where Adam and his team select the right team for the right show; this cast will then rehearse for a mere eight weeks – learning one show a week – at The Academy.


‘The Academy is probably one of the most intense buildings in the country,’ says Adam. ‘I always say to the cast on the first day of rehearsals: “Today we set the stopwatch. In eight weeks we’re going to join the ship, regardless of what happens to us.” But while it’s a hard-working building, it’s an enjoyable building as well.’


After rehearsals, it’s time to board the ship and install the shows. At that point, Adam and his team will add scenery, sound, lighting, automation and costume before showtime.


However, it’s not always smooth sailing from here. Staging a show on a ship is entirely different to staging one on land. ‘The biggest problem is that the ship is moving,’ says Adam. ‘We have a very limited time to set up the scenery and program the sound and lighting. And unlike on land, if we get on stage and realise we’re missing a costume or a prop or a piece of music, it’s not as easy as just running to the town centre to replace it. So we have to work ahead of time, and it’s absolutely critical that we know we’re ready before we get on board.’


But despite the pressures and the weeks of hard work, seeing a show come to life makes it all worth it. ‘It’s amazing to see your concept or idea from six months ago on stage and to see people enjoying it,’ says Adam. ‘That’s the end game – our job is to entertain our guests on board. And to see that you’ve actually achieved your goal at the end of it, that’s where I get my passion from.’


Find out more about on-board entertainment >

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