A Month with Disney

A month ago, I had boarded a plane to Toronto and arrived to find my new, albeit temporary, home for the next two months. My own apartment with a washer/dryer and dishwasher, a balcony overlooking the Toronto streets, and housekeeping service every Monday. Wow! Thus began my life as a Disney Cruise Line Mainstage employee. Over the last month, we’ve been rehearsing for many of the shows to be performed on the Disney cruise ship The Magic. On the ship, we will have Mainstage performers, Character performers, swings, and I will be the cast’s “Vocal Captain.” Our cast is the “Magic 29,” meaning the 29th group of people to perform the shows on the Magic since the ship first set sail.

The Magic 29 cast is a group of great people – young and energetic, amazing singers and dancers, and all have a professional attitude. We are sharing the rehearsal space with the Wonder 26 cast, which has a number of highly athletic performers due to the nature of their shows. They come into the green room drenched in sweat after a run or a hard hour of rehearsing. They leave to go to the Wonder in a few days, so it will be odd to suddenly have the huge rehearsal spaces all to ourselves. But we spend our days rehearsing vocals, staging, and choreography for five 50-minute shows, plus various alternative entertainment numbers. And I understudy a number of characters, so sometimes I (and anyone else who is an understudy) have to learn two different “shows” to one script.

The things I love about this job: I get to be silly for a living at times, but then get to sing some amazing music written by some of the most brilliantly prolific composers and lyricists known today. I get to learn a bit of sign language, puppetry, and some basic sword fighting and swashbuckling choreography as a part of my job. I’ve been able to have time off to walk around Toronto, see Cirque de Soleil’s “Tempest”-inspired “Amaluna” show, got scared at the “Screamers” Haunted House theme park, ate Canadian Thanksgiving with the cast and bonded strongly with them. I look forward to carving pumpkins and having a great Hallowe’en with them too, and tomorrow I get to show my visiting husband around the area and visit Niagara Falls with him on Sunday!

In addition to the above perks, we’ve been given access to the DVD and VHS collection of Disney movies, and I’ve been able to re-watch a half-dozen or so Disney movies from my apartment. This is partly for research (as Disney characters and Greeters, we need to know backstories and some performance-related details), but it was also great to revisit movies I hadn’t seen since I was 10. Indeed, as I watched “Alice in Wonderland” (which my parents bought for me when it was out in VHS), I realized that I could probably recite the whole movie from memory. So many audio-based memories were connected to that movie! And it was wonderful to watch “Dumbo” and “Snow White” just to marvel at the hand-drawn animation and beauty in the conceptualization. But I also loved re-watching “Beauty and the Beast” (I’ll be puppeteering to the voice of Angela Lansbury soon), “The Little Mermaid,” and “Hercules” again. The more modern Disney movies have a LOT more movement and pizzazz than the old movies, but all of them have that Disney charm and both innocent and not-so-innocent fun.

Today I rehearse Ursula for the first time staged!

More to come…