Hi, my name is Desmond Elvis Reggie Charles and I am one of the Stage and Production Managers onboard the world’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas. I come to you all the way from the Spice Island of Grenada.
I have been working for Royal Caribbean International for the past 17 years. I started back in October 1994 where I had the privilege of joining Royal Caribbean International’s Sovereign of the Seas as a drummer/vocalist in a Caribbean band called “Heat Wave”. I eventually formed my own band called “Blue Orchid”. This was followed by a transfer to the entertainment technical department onboard Voyager of the Seas. After three months as a Lounge Technician I was promoted to Sound Technician for the first ice rink at sea. I continued to move up the ranks of the technical team going from Sound Technician to Head Sound and Light Technician and now to the company’s most senior entertainment position, Stage and Production Manager. Today, I work onboard Allure of the Seas managing the operations of a 1,400 seat theater.
As a Stage and Production Manager, I am responsible for the theatrical aspects of all onboard presentations particularly the production shows. I also maintain the artistic standards and intentions of the shows, manage daily maintenance programs and am responsible for all technical spaces in the Cruise Division. But in order to do this I have the help of three Sound Technicians, three Lighting Technicians, two Lounge Technicians and eleven Stage Staff members under my supervision. Together we provide the best technical support anyone can ask for onboard a cruise ship.
On Allure of the Seas we have the Broadway show “Chicago: The Musical” and a typical “Chicago” show day starts the night before with setting up the bandstand which takes four and a half hours. The Chicago set up involves four large set pieces that come together to make a large bandstand on the stage. As we are putting the bandstand together there are three light technicians building four 30-foot light towers, while two sound technicians wire the bandstand and place the drum set on the upper landing of the set. Then the light techs begin to refocus the lights that were mounted on the towers while the stage staff sets the chairs and props to finish the set up.
Unlike some other crew members, for me there is no difference between a sea day and a port day as the job remains the same.
My favorite part of the job is interacting with the guest entertainers. I work to bring them onboard, schedule rehearsals and ensure that the shows run smoothly. Also each week I meet with the senior staff from the cruise director division where we plan for the next cruise.
I also work with the other departments to organize all crew meetings, crew parties or just to lend a hand or help solve a problem. Doing this makes me feel like I am a part of something big, especially when sitting at the same table as the Captain, Staff Captain, Hotel Director, Chief Engineer and other Division Heads as a member of our Executive Maintenance Committee.
Another one of my favorite responsibilities is working as part of the team that conducts the weekly back stage tour for our guests. It’s always fun to answer questions from the guests about various aspects of the production shows.
My typical day looks like this:
• 8:00 am Breakfast
• 8:45 am Check my email and prepare letters for the incoming Entertainers
• 9:00 am – 10:30 am My morning walk around the Theater and the other small venues, making sure that everything is ready for guests.
• 10:30 am – 11:00 am Walk the I-95 and pick up needed packages and boxes. This is our main crew hallway on the ship and it is a very busy and fast moving area.
• Noon Check email again and then eat lunch
• 1:00 pm I am on stand by awaiting a call from Guest Services that the entertainer(s) have arrived.
• 2:00 pm – 3:45 pm Personal time (“Des Time”) and time for that phone call from my family so I can keep up with how my 3 year old is doing.
• 4.00 pm Getting ready for the guest drill coming up at 4:15 pm
• 5:00 pm Back in the office to check the emails and at 5:45 pm to the sound check with the Cast and Orchestra.
• 7:45 pm Preset for tonight’s show
• 8:00 pm Freshen up before the show
• 8:15 pm Back in the office check emails while I stand by for show time.
• 9:00 pm Showtime! Move scenery and calling cues for the show ( 1 ½ hours)
• 11:45 pm Cruise Director wraps up the last show onstage and the main curtain comes down
• 1:30 am Finish up anything outstanding in the office and ensure things are set onstage for the following day.
• 2:00 am Done for the night but only to do it all over again tomorrow in a different order.
Before you know it four months has passed and I’m off on a two month vacation counting the weeks until I am back onboard again.
As a boy I was always interested in the cruise ships that visited the islands, and I would often wave to the guests and crew as they boarded the ship thinking… one day that will be me.
Now here I am.