The latest detail to sneak out about the 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas: The largest and most innovative cruise ship ever built will feature a production of the Tony-award-winning musical "Hairspray," the hugely popular musical comedy starring "pleasantly plump" teenager Tracy Turnblad, who takes on dual duties as local dance show star and spokesperson for racial integration.
The musical will be the first version of a Broadway show staged by Royal Caribbean, as well as one of a few legitimate Broadway productions currently being offered at sea (NCL has "Smokey Joe's Cafe"). Royal Caribbean declined to comment on details of the show.
You may remember the original version of "Hairspray," a film written and directed by the provocatively pencil-moustached John Waters. The movie quickly rose to cult status, with its blend of campy humor and commentary on race relations in the early 1960's. The film was adapted into a Broadway play in 2002, before being adapted back into a film in 2007 starring John Travolta in fat-suit and drag.
Staging an actual Broadway show on a cruise ship -- rather than the "Broadway-esque revue" or "Broadway-style extravaganza" typical to cruising -- is almost unheard of. In the 1970's and 1980's, Norwegian Cruise Line brought Broadway productions to SS Norway, including versions of "Hello Dolly" and "A Chorus Line." These days, Norwegian Jade features a staging of the Tony-award-winning "Smokey Joe's Cafe." And as Broadway shows are typically much longer than the stage shows cruise passengers experience at sea, it's likely that RCI's version of "Hairspray" will be shortened. The production will take place at the Opal Theater, the ship's main entertainment venue, and with just 1,380 seats -- for a ship that carries 5,400 passengers -- tickets may be necessary.
For folks not into stories told through huge song-and-dance numbers, Oasis of the Seas boasts numerous other entertainment options, including Cirque du Soleil-style water acrobatics at the AquaTheater, an outdoor area with stadium seating surrounding an 18-feet-deep pool; a two-deck dance lounge called Dazzles; the largest casino afloat, complete with a gaming museum; a zip-line; two surf simulators; two rock-climbing walls; and a free-standing stand-up comedy joint.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor
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Oasis of the Seas Brings Broadway Musical "Hairspray" to Cruises
April 13, 2009