July 11, 2011
We Are Cunard
Those of you who have sailed on board Queen Victoria recently may have met our guest blogger today; Entertainment Director Sally Sagoe.
Sally comes from an international background and was born in the UK in London. She graduated as a ‘Speech and Drama’ teacher – and spent time teaching underprivileged children and those who were unable to participate in main stream education.
She later spent several years as a television and West End theatre actress and singer. Award-nominated Sally is probably best known for the part she played for 3 years as Hannah Carpenter in ‘Eastenders’ in the 1980s, one of Britain’s best loved TV soap operas.<BR>
I have been working at sea since 1999 on board several different P&O Cruises ships, and most recently Queen Victoria. My background is in theatre and television and before working at sea I spent many years in the industry, including a few years on the popular British soap Eastenders.
One of the strange things about being in a soap opera is that the general public feels they know you personally – often I would be stopped whilst out shopping – and a complete stranger would berate me for not looking after my fictional TV husband and children. On another occasion the storyline dealt with a pregnant character – numerous members of public sent in knitted booties for the fictional baby! You often hear about actors and actresses having the privilege of filming ‘on location’ – often in exotic locations. Whilst filming for another soap opera – I was excited and expectant when it was discovered we were going ’on location - however it turned out to be Tooting Bec! Nothing wrong with Tooting Bec - but we were hoping for Barbados!
My London West End theatre, television and film performances culminated in the accolade of being invited to perform at the ‘Royal Variety Performance’, where I was honoured to sing for the late Queen Mother and to meet members of the Royal Family.
My first love has always been theatre, I love a live audience - there’s nothing like a ‘first night’ to get the adrenalin going - you wait expectantly in the wings in scintillating anticipation - a million thoughts going through your head - you hear ‘Overture and Beginners’ – it’s your cue – and you’re on. Weeks of rehearsals have finally come to fruition and now it’s your turn to ‘tread the boards.
My love of the performing arts prompted me to set up my own music business which sent me touring around the world with my jazz, blues and soul bands. I auditioned bands and then took them out on the road with me for various tours. Life on the road as an artist was exhilarating and very hard work - particularly when travelling on mountainous roads in Scandinavia. Driving from venue to venue could take up to 5 hours. Far from the luxury of stunning Queen Victoria – we travelled by cars and touring vans during winter - with studded tyres and chains on tyres to grip the snow .It all seemed so exciting then - not so sure I’d want to do it now! However who could not enjoy the spectacular and scenic views?
Rehearsals for my 45 minute stage act would commence shortly after arrival at the venue - and then early morning – the boys and I and my manager would be back on the road - travelling to the next venue. On one occasion the boys in the band went to a party and left their equipment on stage. During the night the hotel caught fire and all our instruments burnt to a cinder. Most importantly everyone escaped unharmed, however we had to cancel the rest of the tour and return home. My experiences of life on the road with numerous bands gave me a thorough understanding of the intricacies of music and the complex nature of some musicians- and an appreciation of remaining in one place for more than one night at a time!
More recently, my career has taken me into the training consultancy, management and cruise industry where I met and married a ship’s engineer in a romantic wedding on a beach in Barbados.
My first impressions of moving to Cunard and Queen Victoria was of how breathtakingly beautiful she is – stunning venues throughout the ship and the excitement of hearing not one but two wonderful orchestras. It was thrilling to watch guests on one particular evening – as they emerged from the Theatre still singing “Rule Britannia” & waving flags- making their way to the Golden Lion Pub where the rousing sounds of New Orleans and Dixieland Jazz with the fabulous Royal Court Theatre Orchestra filled the air. A little further on the Victoriana Ball was in full swing – many in full Victorian costume. Those who ventured beyond were delighted by the classical melodies cascading through the mid ships area with the String Quartet and Harpist - what more could a girl ask for?
With her zest for life, extensive entertainment background and love of people and travel, Sally says she finds her role as Entertainment Director on Queen Victoria a wonderfully fulfilling position. If she ever finds the time, she would like to write a book about her experiences both at sea and on land. “I might have to change the names of a few people to protect the innocent!”