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Cruise ship stars give something back                            October 06. 2003 9:23AM


Helping: Marcus Dagan and Chad Brennen, entertainers for Norwegian Cruise Lines, have organised Tuesday's bash in St. George's.

By Nancy Acton

Two different cruise ships, two different entertainers, one single thought: "Let's do something for our beloved Bermuda."
When Marcus Dagan, singer/pianist and recording artist now on the Norwegian Sea, and Chad Brennen, art director and singer on the Norwegian Majesty, heard about the damage Hurricane Fabian had wreaked on the Island, they were devastated.
Each week throughout the season, they have been among the ships' entertainers and crew who arrive in St. George's - a little town whose charm and peoples they have grown to know and love, and where they have spent their spare time enjoying its amenities and hospitality. It is, as Mr. Brennan put it, "Everyone's home from home."
In fact, for Mr. Dagan, in particular, Bermuda had always held an extra special place in his heart, for it was here some years ago that his international career was launched.
He has never forgotten the time he spent entertaining patrons at the then-Rum Runners restaurant, and all of the people whom he met.
Naturally, he was overjoyed when he found himself making regular calls at Bermuda on the Norwegian Majesty both last year and this, before being transferred a few weeks ago to her sister ship, the Norwegian Sea.
When both men saw at first hand the devastation in St. George's, and in particular at the St. George's Preparatory School, they both had the same reaction: they wanted to do something to help.
So they resolved to have a concert to raise money for the school's Disaster Relief Fund, as well as for families of the victims who were swept off the Causeway.
"Entertainers on both ships love Bermuda, and we wanted to give something back," Mr. Dagan said. "A concert gives us an opportunity to do that and also to help people in a place that we really care about."
When their idea was put to the respective singers, dancers, bands and entertainers on their ships, the response was immediate and positive: they would love to put on a big concert in the Town Square.
They also agreed that admission would be free, but a donation box would be strategically placed.
Losing no time in contacting the appropriate authorities ashore, Mr. Dagan and Mr. Brennen met with nothing but enthusiasm, cooperation and a willingness to help. St. George's activist and town crier E. Michael Jones, St. George's Corporation common councillor David Raine and his wife, artist Jill Raine, and the St. George's Market Group (of which Mrs. Raine is chairman) and many others have been of tremendous assistance.
"In fact, we could not have done it without the Raine's," Mr. Dagan said.
While a few details are still to be finalised today, the green light is firmly on for tomorrow.
From 3 to 7 p.m. spectators will be treated to a non-stop programme featuring the entertainers on both ships, including comedians, dancers, bands, pianists, singers and a Celtic music duo.
"There will be a significant variety of entertainment such as I think Bermuda has not experienced before," Mr. Jones predicted. "It is going to be great fun."

Growing enthusiasm
Jonathan Trott of Spanish Town International is handling all of the sound and stage arrangements, including a marquee to protect the performers in the event of inclement weather, for the concert will go on rain, blow or shine.
The Bank of Butterfield has generously agreed to sponsor the onshore expenses associated with what promises to be a very slick, professional event, of which CNN has also been made aware.
In addition to St. George's Preparatory School principal Mrs. Lodge, members of the school's PTA will also be on hand to sell baked goods and sodas.
Meanwhile, as word of the ships' concert has spread in St. George's, enthusiasm has mounted, and already a $1500 donation has been received. It is anticipated that East End businesses and residents will also follow suit with donations of their own.
Although Norwegian Cruise Lines' policy forbids entertainers and crew from soliciting funds from passengers on board their ships, the organisers are confident that, when they hear about the event and its purpose, donations ashore will surely follow.
There will be 15 acts, each of about 12 minutes' duration, and maybe "some surprises" in the form of guest appearances.
Mr. Brennen will emcee, and plans call for a renewed invitation to donate at the end of each act. In addition, dancers have agreed to let the public pose for pictures with them in exchange for a donation, while two of them, once from each ship, have gamely agreed to be ducked in St. George's Harbour by the Town Crier.
When Mr. Dagan brings the programme to a close, it will include the première of his original composition, 'My Dreams are Safely Gathered In' - a homage to Bermuda.
Finally, students from St. George's Preparatory School will sing a special song and the chorus of Michael Jackson's 'We are the World'.
As to how the funds will be used by the beleaguered east end school, that is being left to the appropriate authorities to decide.
"We have nothing to do with the money. We are just organising the concert," Mr. Dagan stressed.
For her part, principal Mary Lodge said she is "absolutely delighted" that the ships' entertainers have chosen to help her school, adding that it has enjoyed a long history of working with the Raine family, whose children are former pupils.
Speaking on behalf of the Corporation of St. George's, Mr. Raine said it too was "delighted" to be associated with what he termed "this splendid gesture" by the Norwegian Cruise Lines entertainers.
"We have been very keen to cooperate with the St. George's Market Group and others involved in this production, and we stand willing to continue helping to make this event a resounding success," he said. "We certainly hope that everyone will come out and support this worthy cause."
"Let's pack the Town Square," Mr. Brennen echoed.
At press time, organisers were still hoping that the projected reopening of the Causeway for full time use will be in time to accommodate people returning to the mainland from the concert after 7 p.m.
Anyone wishing to donate by mail should make their cheques payable to the St. George's Preparatory School Disaster Relief Fund and send them to 26 Church Folly Lane, St. George's GE 03 for the attention of Mrs. Lodge. For further information telephone her at 297-0370.

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