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Carnival Cruise Line opens rehearsal studio for ship entertainers in Davie

Carnival Cruise Line, whose entertainers stage more than 12,000 song and dance acts annually aboard its 25 ships, is raising the curtain on a massive rehearsal studio in Davie.

The Doral-based cruise operator Wednesday unveiled its new 44,500-square-foot venue in Broward County, where more than 500 performers will meet twice a year to hone their shipboard performances.

The $5 million facility on Davie Road, dubbed Carnival Studios, boasts eight music studios, five full-stage dance studios, a training room, a green room and offices for Carnival’s entertainment department.

“Whether it’s our elaborate production shows, our popular rock bands or solo artists performing throughout the ship, entertainment is a huge part of the Carnival vacation experience,” said Sarah Beth Reno, Carnival’s vice president of entertainment. “This spectacular rehearsal space provides us with unprecedented opportunities to develop exciting new choices for our guests.”

The new rehearsal space — designed as a creative hub for its entertainment department — is equipped with the latest in digital sound, lighting and recording technology, Carnival said. Every main theater stage across its fleet has been replicated in its full-scale studios.

Among its cutting-edge features is a 480-square-foot LED screen inside one of its dance studios, which is a key backdrop for the cruise line’s Playlist Productions shows.

Band members, show casts and technical crews from every ship will gather for intensive rehearsals in addition to brainstorming future productions and innovative entertainment, Carnival said.

“We designed the space to encourage interaction and engagement between everyone who works on our shows – from cast members and musicians to technicians and backstage crew,” said Chris Nelson, Carnival’s director of entertainment. “It is in these sometimes intentional and sometimes impromptu collaborations that the strongest ideas take shape, inspiring synergy and building relationships that last a lifetime.”

In all, 14 different shows are expected to be in rehearsal each week when entertainers and performers are in town, in addition to developing new productions, Carnival said.

Among the new shows in rehearsals will be Amor Cubano, which debuted last year on Carnival Vista, the line’s newest cruise ship now sailing from PortMiami.

Carnival described Amor Cubano as a Caribbean Dance Romance that offers “an exhilarating get-on-your-feet show that blends classic Latin songs with today’s hits” and features a seven-piece Cuban-inspired band performing songs by Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz and others.

Entertainers on ships sailing from Port Everglades such as Carnival Conquest will also rehearse at the new studio.

Other Playlist Productions offerings include musical shows Latin Nights, Motor City, America Rocks, Flick, The Brits, Heart of Soul, Getaway Island, Epic Rock, 88 Keys, Pop to the Max and Studio VIP.

“Recruiting individual band members and rehearsing them shore side is an initiative we have been focused on over the past few years,” Reno said, noting that 50 percent of the musicians now rehearse on land. “This strategy has increased the quality and consistency of our music offerings across the fleet.”

The new studio is expected to bring together its entertainers with top talent from well-known theatrical hubs such as Broadway, Las Vegas and London’s West End, in collaborations that could produce “new innovations in shipboard entertainment,” the cruise line said.

It took three years to develop the new studio. The company chose Davie as the site after looking at several other locations in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Davie was selected because of its location, convenience, cost, and the line’s ability to build to suit its needs.

It’s not uncommon for major cruise lines to have training venues for their entertainers.

In 2015, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. unveiled its new $32 million, 130,000-square-foot production studio built in partnership with Florida International University on the college’s North Miami campus. It had previously occupied a smaller studio in Hollywood.

In early 2014 Norwegian Creative Studios opened in Riverview, FL., to serve as a rehearsal space for all entertainers heading aboard ships sailing for Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

asatchell@sun-sentinel.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport

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