In designing the public spaces on its newest Quantum class of cruise ship, Royal Caribbean has thrown the rulebook of conventional theatre design overboard in putting together the venue known as Two70.
You’ll find this venue on Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, and it will also appear on two more ships yet to join this family. Once you experience a show such as Pixels, you may even go so far as to think that for its purpose, it might very well be the most perfectly designed theatre in the history of cruising.
During a recent cruise on Ovation, I called it the “Clark Kent” – mild-mannered and subtle by day but when the sun goes down, it is anything but. Two70 roars into life on a nightly basis, transforming into a nightclub or a full-scale theatre where lively post-dinner entertainment is delivered with a healthy dose of imagination, surprise and a significant amount of technology.
With a name like Pixels, it’s a natural assumption that a lot of this available technology will be employed in the show, and you’re not wrong. But it’s how this machinery, lighting, sound and the supporting framework deliver the show which take away every notion of what you think you’ll be seeing and replace it with the usual sense of ‘Wow’ which Royal Caribbean banks its reputation on with every cruise it runs around the world.
Six LED television screens mounted on robot arms (incidentally, the same type of arms you’ll find in the Bionic Bar) comprise “The Robots”, which come to the fore at different stages of the show. The activity on the screen make up much of the show. Their involvement is not enough to make the show boring but it is enough to drive home the message that they are firmly in charge of what you’re seeing and hearing.
Despite the considerable amount of technology on show, Pixels features a lot of popular music you’ll instantly recognise, even if some of it has been electronically enhanced. You’ll see dance routines set to music from Michael Jackson, the Pet Shop Boys, Gloria Estefan, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and even The Isley Brothers, famous for their hit “Shout”.
The Robots choreograph their own blend of entertainment, changing positions, rotating and linking up to dazzle the audience with a style of automatic showmanship which will either be a hit or miss with you, depending perhaps on your generation and the level of exposure that technology has on your daily life. For older guests, this may not be so high and therefore, these scenes may not have the same impact as they will on those who use computers often.
Activities of The Robots precede a variety of dance routines performed by Ovation of the Seas‘ resident entertainers, ranging from high-energy numbers in colourful costumes, to a mix of Motown / Dreamgirls lounge singers and even some cryptic trapeze work.
One thing certain to unify the audience is the human talent on show. A troupe of around 10 dancers and musicians are incredibly agile, flexible and energetic, while a saxophonist, keyboardist and drummer provide an extremely capable supporting soundtrack. The show is led by a ring-mistress wielding an LED staff, but a notable and perplexing question remains – is she controlling The Robots, or are they controlling her?
The show has been beautifully choreographed, maximising use of the numerous trapdoors and elevated sections of the stage area. You never know from which side or what part of the stage a performer is going to emerge or disappear.
With this in mind, make sure you arrive early to secure a seat either in the centre of the room or in the second tier above, to ensure a panoramic view of everything which is about to take place before you.
To guarantee a seat at Pixels, you’ll need to make a booking, which can be done in advance through the online Cruise Planner, on the Royal IQ app once you board or at a special desk set up in the Central Atrium where a crew member can book a seat for you. This booking assures you a seat in the theatre for that particular performance, but not a specific seat, so it’s highly recommend to arrive early to ensure you get the seats you want.
As entertaining as the dance routines are, the technology and The Robots are the dominant player in Pixels. While it will likely be a hit or possibly a miss depending on your individual tastes, the show is still a must-see on any Royal Caribbean cruise offering it on the lineup.
Our tip: If you loved it first time round, see it a second time but sit somewhere else in the theatre. You’ll see things better that you may have missed first time around.