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Berlin to go, english edition, 02/2016

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DISCUSSION WAVES OF

DISCUSSION WAVES OF ENTERTAINMENT Entertaining audiences on all seven seas – TUI Cruises relies on show programs “Made in Berlin” The cruise industry is riding a wave of success. Each year, the number of passengers reaches new record highs. And even though Berlin doesn’t have a port or direct access to the sea, the city continues to be an exciting location for companies in the booming cruise-ship sector. TUI Cruises has the entertainment programs for their onboard stages developed and rehearsed in the creative and cultural German capital. Berlin by the sea: On Bouchéstraße in the district of Treptow, the light blue TUI Cruises flags flutter in the spring breeze. Even the rustle of leaves in a nearby park resembles the sound of waves. One also gets a very nautical feeling upon entering the brick building, which was built in the 1920s and now forms part of the Bouché Business Park. Here, on a 4,000 m2 space, shows and entertainment programs for TUI Cruises’ “Mein Schiff” (Atlantique) ships are conceived, developed and rehearsed. And the sector is booming: in 2015, the German cruise-ship industry achieved a new record with 1.8 million passengers. As a result, TUI Cruises GmbH is expanding its fleet and plans to add by 2019 four new ships to the four already in operation. Each of the ships can accommodate from 2,000 to 2,500 guests. As Dr. Thomas Schmidt-Ott, Director Arts & Entertainment at TUI Cruises noted: “This means that the need for highprofile on-board stage entertainment programs will continue to rise.” The days when a solitary pianist comprised the full extent of on-board cruise-ship entertainment are finally over, at least in the opinion of Schmidt-Ott, who happens to have a doctorate in musicology and business: “We offer professional entertainment with elaborate stage sets and costumes, exhilarating choreographies and original compositions performed by world-class singers, musicians, dancers and artists.” Entertainment programs for TUI ships are created in Berlin-Treptow. All photos: TUI 10 BERLIN TO GO

DISCUSSION (“The Song of the Tides”), an elaborate show directed by Arthur Castro that features captivating visual effects. It also won the 2015 Kreuzfahrtpreis (Cruise Ship Prize) for Best Show. Professionalism both on stage and behind the scenes – even on the high seas. Berlin is the perfect spot to find precisely these performers. Indeed, when Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller describes the capital as “a magnet for young talent, artists and creative minds of all kinds,” the head of Arts & Entertainment can only agree wholeheartedly: “We cast many Berlin-based artists active here on the freelance market.” Schmidt-Ott also notes that the city is a hub for Eastern Europe, which attracts several high-end artists to Berlin. In order to be able to offer a thrilling entertainment program and fill 1,000-seat theater spaces on TUI Cruises Entertainment Liners night after night, the Trier-born Schmidt-Ott also relies on “many different networks and links” in the capital itself. He has been cultivating these connections ever since he moved to Berlin in 1985 to pursue his studies. Among his closest partners are the Deutsches Symphonie- Orchester Berlin and other cultural institutions such as the Schlossparktheater headed up by Dieter Hallervorden. Together with Wolfram Korr, artistic director of the onboard shows and presentations, the 50-year-old Schmidt- Ott boasts extensive experience in the realm of “culturetainment.” These two classically trained musicians have worked together in the cruise-ship business since their student days. In 2008, they founded “Soko Arts, Event and Entertainment GmbH” in Berlin and began offering cultural programs for companies, the tourist industry and the political community. After two years, the original company became the Arts & Entertainment Department of TUI Cruises. What’s the recipe for success in “feel-good entertainment” on the high seas? On the one hand, TUI Cruises relies on high-tech stage technology; for example, floating theaters are equipped with height-adjustable double-ring revolving stages, mobile LED walls and structures that let artists fly above the heads of audiences and across the stage. On the other hand, self-made productions also play a key role. One successful example that bears the creative signature of the Berlin team from start to finish is “Das Lied der Gezeiten” On TUI’s trips across the oceans of the world, the on-board entertainment offerings include stage shows with numbers drawn from musicals and operas, but also concerts ranging from Classical to Jazz, variety shows, comedy shows and nighttime readings under the starry skies. Back on land, there are 50 employees in Berlin working to prepare the up to 30 different shows that will be shown on board the cruise ships. In addition, up to 1,000 singers, dancers, actors and artists use the rehearsal center each year for intensive two-month training sessions before setting out on their four-month cruise-ship gigs. The former TUI Cruises Arts & Entertainment offices on Checkpoint Charlie were no longer able to meet the requirements of this creative machine working under such high pressure. Among other things, the space did not offer a pillar-free dance floor that corresponded to the cruise-ship stage dimensions, which are 12 x 16 meters. TUI offers its guests a wide array of colorful and entertaining shows. Since June 2015, the new space on Bouchéstraße offers more space and custom-made facilities. In addition to the office space, there are also rehearsal areas for actors, a studio and recording cabins for singers and musicians spread out over four floors. The costume cabinet and on-site sewing department also take up considerable space. In a new white building that resembles the bow of a ship jutting out of the historical brick building, there are even three dance halls, one on top of one another. And Thomas Schmidt-Ott, who radiates excitement when talking about the modern studio technology and stage equipment, is already planning for the future. He has personally scouted the surrounding commercial areas and notes: “As of 2017, we are going to be in urgent need of additional space!” es BERLIN TO GO 11

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