Some elements of the Carnival Cruise Line experience have woven themselves intrinsically into the brand’s very fabric – to the point where no matter how much a particular item, feature or service might “age”, customer demand and response dictates that it just cannot be removed or retired.
A classic example of this is Carnival’s eponymous Warm Melting Chocolate Lava Cake. It’s been around since the 1970’s and is simply pudding in a cup. No matter how you dress it up, that’s the basic product and Carnival has tried to retire it gracefully in the past – before being forced to respond to overwhelming passenger demand for its return. It’s like the infamous “New Coke” saga in the 1980’s when Coca Cola launched the disastrous “improved” drink to an utterly hostile reception, before bringing back the original recipe to universal plaudits.
On a smaller scale, the Epic Rock stage show – performed by Carnival’s ‘Playlist Productions’ entertainment troupes on many ships across the fleet – has found its way into a permanent rotation and is usually delivered toward the end of each cruise, always to packed houses.
While each Carnival ship caters to different markets, Epic Rock takes on slight alterations in terms of the exact music line-up depending on which part of the world a ship may be sailing. The premise though remains the same – showcasing some of the world’s greatest rock anthems alongside pulsating and high-energy dance routines.
For those needing a storyline to go with a show, the idea behind this show is that the performers are drawing upon supernatural abilities to harness and control the elements of earth, air, fire and water, reflected on stage through the use of lasers, flames & pyrotechnics.
Epic Rock is the end result of a collaboration between Robb Wagner from Stimulated Inc and choreographer Paul Roberts, who has overseen theatrics associated with live performances from Robbie Williams, One Direction and the late Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour which tragically never saw the light of day.
Guests sitting in the Pharoah’s Theatre on Carnival Spirit around half an hour or so ahead of showtime are usually enjoying a few subtle numbers performed by one of the ship’s talented guitarists, however this is a precursor to the show which awaits. After a few great numbers, the rest of the Playlist Productions troupe very casually make their way down the aisles – totally unannounced – and the show begins, often catching the audience unaware.
The opening number sees performers entering through the main entry and positioning themselves in the aisle for a rendition of Robbie Williams’ hit ‘Swing When You’re Winning’, with alternate lines delivered from opposite sides of the theatre. Cast members are of course impeccably kitted out in stunning costumes, with the ladies in typically elaborate outfits and ready for a multitude of changes as the show progresses.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock – an epic one at that – it’s virtually impossible you haven’t heard of the songs which form part of Epic Rock. Together, they make up a huge cross-section in the annals of global music’s most celebrated groups and artists over the past 40 years. The show itself runs for just less than an hour and features hits which still receive regular air time on radio stations across the world today.
Artists whose work is adapted for the Carnival Spirit stage include multiple anthems from Queen, such as ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Somebody to Love’ and perhaps their most iconic hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Each rendition has the crowd singing along and dancing in the aisles. You’ll also hear ageless classics from Bon Jovi, Bonnie Tyler, Meatloaf, Guns N Roses and Joan Jett – to name just a few.
While the entire Playlist Productions troupe work as one to deliver yet another spellbinding show, there are of course some standout performers whose stars are given an opportunity to shine particularly brightly with individual renditions which leave you captivated and inevitably rising to deliver a standing ovation.
The Playlist Productions cast are a small but presumably tightly-knit group of performers who recognise the group is only as good as its weakest member. However, the beautiful part of their work – a reflection of the dedication to their craft – is that no one individual falters to any noticeable level. Quite the opposite in fact, throughout Epic Rock, you’ll actually be actively looking for one particular standout – another impossible task.