May 9, 2015

Pianist in the Atrium

Leaving behind her familiar Mediterranean home, MSC Orchestra recently visited Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, on her 33 night Grand Voyage itinerary, that began in Dubai and ended in Fremantle. This was the first time any MSC ship had sailed “down under”. Cairns was scheduled as the first Australian port where the partial circumnavigation of the Australian Coast was to start, but Mother Nature had other ideas, deciding to send a cyclone to the area that prevented shipping from entering the port, so Brisbane had the honor of being the first Australian port to welcome MSC Orchestra.

Covent Garden Theatre

Covent Garden Theatre

Next it was Sydney’s turn to celebrate in true Aussie style with an evening beach party, held on deck around the pool during her overnight stay. Celebrations went on well into the night as many of the passengers who had embarked in Dubai, enjoyed dancing to the Australian bush musicians who came on board especially for the occasion.

Sandra Tiltman enjoying a pre show cocktail

Sandra Tiltman enjoying a pre show cocktail

I boarded in Sydney and sailed to Fremantle, so I was able to live the Italian lifestyle that cruising with MSC offers. It did not take me long to unpack and settle into my balcony cabin before I was able to start experiencing first hand all the pleasures of sailing in this modern luxury cruise ship, which exuded Italian style and comfort.

Launched on 14 May 2007, MSC Orchestra is the second of the ‘Musica-class’ cruise ships in MSC’s large fleet. Living up to her name and in tune with her musical theme, each of MSC Orchestra’s decks carries the name of a musical instrument such as Saxofono, Violino, Mandolino and Clarinetto.


La Cantinella Wine Bar

The large atrium was home to an elegant white grand piano which was played throughout the day, either by a solo pianist who performed a varied programme of modern music or a classical trio of two violinists and pianist. It was a real treat to sit and enjoy a coffee while listening to this relaxing music.

Early evening the ship’s bars and lounges came alive with music of every variety, from a dance band in the jungle themed Savannah Bar, to the guitarist in the more intimate Amber Bar. La Cantinella Wine Bar with its lively saxofonist supplying the music was also a very popular pre dinner location. The music did not stop after dinner, when those who love to dance headed for The Shaker Lounge and for the night owls who did not want to go to bed, the Disco went on long into the night and the early hours.

Cooking Fresh Pasta in Dining Room

Cooking Fresh Pasta in Dining Room

I spent a lot of my time on board in the Covent Garden Theatre, where two live performances were scheduled every evening, to cater for the two dining times. This comfortable double level theatre provided a fantastic view from every seat, much better than many shore side venues I have visited. The modern production shows were extremely professional and showcased a variety of entertainers. Language was not a problem as the MC made concurrent announcements in five languages.

A highlight for me were the series of afternoon classical concerts, featuring the music of Tchaikovsky and Puccini, performed by the magnificent opera singers and musicians especially on board for this Grand Voyage.

Sandra Tiltman  Photos: John Pond



May 9, 2015

Image 9-05-2015 at 11.38 am

The acclaimed West End revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record breaking musical CATS is coming to Australia following its triumphant season in London.

Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the show is set amongst a junkyard playground that is alive with our favourite feline characters including Rum Tum Tugger, Mr. Mistoffelees, Macavity, Jennyanydots, Old Deuteronomy, Grizabella and Skimbleshanks.

The Jellicle Cats come out to play on one special night of the year, the night of the Jellicle Ball. One by one they tell their stories for the amusement of Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, who must choose one of the Cats to ascend to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.

SJH_3102The 2015 Olivier Award nominated CATS introduces a rapping ‘street cat’ in the famous Rum Tum Tugger role, who performs some amazing breakdancing moves. “I’ve come to the conclusion that having read Eliot again, maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap”, said Lloyd Webber.

The hit revival was reworked for the most recent season in the West End by the original creative team of Director Trevor Nunn, Choreographer & Associate Director Gillian Lynne, Set Designer John Napier and Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

CATS is one of the longest running shows in the history of the West End and Broadway. The world premiere was held in 1981 at the New London Theatre, where it played for 21 record breaking years and almost 9,000 performances. The ground-breaking production was the winner of the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. In 1983 the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony awards including Best Musical and ran for 18 years.

The magnificent musical score composed by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, includes the poignant hit song ‘Memory’, which has been recorded by over 150 artists from Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis to Liberace and Barry Manilow.

Since its world premiere, CATS has been presented in over 30 countries, translated into 15 languages and seen by more than 73 million people worldwide.  Both the original London and Broadway cast recordings won Grammy Awards for Best Cast Album.

CATS is a brilliant song and dance spectacular, featuring an oversized set, superb score, inspired choreography and costumes

Playing at Sydney’s Capital Theatre from 30 October 2015 and Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from 18 December 2015.

Sandra Tiltman