Performing on stage before a live audience several times a week in a steady job is what many actors strive to do. Some act in community theaters or in off-Broadway shows. But what’s life like for an actor who spends the majority of the year acting and singing in a musical theater show on the high seas?
Ernest Marchain, who plays the role of lawyer Billy Flynn in CHICAGO: The Musical onboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, loves his job. “The whole experience from an actor’s perspective is amazing,” he said. “The directors, vocal directors and choreographers are so talented at what they do. That shows in our performances that the guests see on our ships.”
Set in the roaring 20s, CHICAGO: The Musical tells the story of a chorus girl and a female vaudeville performer who meet in prison and hire the same defense attorney to acquit them of their murder charges. Marchain believes that listening closely to the dialogue in the scenes and songs will help guests who view the show enjoy it even more. “It’s so tongue and cheek in some scenes and can be so real to life in others,” he said.
Marchain, a native Californian, has been acting for more than 25 years and his stage career has taken him on tours to Australia, Europe, China and throughout the United States. Although he has performed on Broadway and in Las Vegas shows, Marchain still gets a thrill performing his favorite parts of the musical onboard. “I think my favorite show moment is the courtroom scene where my character, Billy Flynn, really gets to do “his thing,”” he said. “The whole storyline is leading up to whether or not he can use his “Razzle Dazzle” to get Roxie off the hook!”
Traveling is a great perk that comes with the job and Marchain, an avid golfer, has especially enjoyed playing a few rounds in Jamaica and St. Thomas. But his favorite aspect of his contract is actually back onboard. “I think the best part for me is the entertainment. Not only doing my shows, but watching all the other artists do their thing.,” he said. “It’s really great to be able to enjoy your fellow entertainers’ talents too. And sometimes they’ll even invite us up to sing a song with them.”
While Marchain misses his friends and family while at sea, many of them have actually come for one or two week cruises on his ship. But he believes it’s one of the best working environments. “You can’t beat the views, let’s be honest. To be able to look out into the ocean every day is pretty amazing!”