For the first time, actors are being included among cast members of the newly formed Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company (most lines just have singers and dancers).
And another first for Cunard: Following the trend set by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line in staging established hits at sea on new ships -- "Hairspray" and "Chicago" by Royal Caribbean and Blue Man Group by NCL -- Queen Elizabeth's passengers will be treated to the hit musical "A Slice of Saturday Night," which has enjoyed a run in the West End and a season off-Broadway (American readers may remember it as "Cafe A Go-Go").
The 60's-themed show has been specially adapted for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company by its original writers, the Heather Brothers, and will be the largest production show that Cunard has ever staged.
As for the rest of the line-up: Lovers of Shakespeare will be able to enjoy an abridged version of "Twelfth Night," while there will be a taste of more contemporary drama with a Neil Simon triple bill, featuring a scene each from "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," "Plaza Suite" and "The Odd Couple," each linked by its setting either in an apartment or a hotel suite. The audience will have a chance to meet the actors for a Q&A at the end of each show.
Two more production shows include "The Piccadilly Line," centered on a tube carriage on the London Underground, and "Hotel Royale," set against the backdrop of a fading hotel with some unusual and quirky staff and guests (let's hope this one works or it could be in danger of being dubbed "Fawlty Towers").
"Sing," based on the Singers in Concert shows on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, will feature covers of popular hits from musicals, pop and light classics. "La Danza" is a dance-themed production show in the same vein as Apassionata and Dance Passion, running respectively on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
Finally, a specially written panel quiz show -- based on the format of the BBC's "Have I Got News For You" -- will also be staged during the day.
Actual scheduling of all the shows has yet to be announced, although we know some will be followed by theme parties, for example, a "London Swings" sixties night will always coincide with "A Slice Of Saturday Night".
Queen Elizabeth is less than three months from launch and we'll reveal more about the new ship as details unfold. So stay tuned!
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor