The trip back to Naples went without a hitch, and soon the WHEATEN PRINCESS was leaving the lovely harbour and heading back to the good old USA.

Killian and Tuckerotti's remaining performances were just as successful as the first, and they had received rave reviews in all the Italian newspapers.

NEW YORK was anticipating packed houses for the performances there, and already the first performance was booked out!

But for now, the two great stars were looking forward to a restful voyage, surrounded by all their old friends.


                                       Tonight, there was to be what they called a 'BIG BAND NIGHT'. 

How was this possible?  Well, it was all Abby's idea. On the previous voyage they had held a ROARING 20's NIGHT which had been a great success.  So why not have a FABULOUS 40's NIGHT this time?

Capt Guiness suggested a better title, because the 40's, for the most part, were not very 'fabulous'. The Second World War was raging for half of it.  However, Abby was determined to have some special celebration and she pointed out that, though it was a time of great trauma, it also produced some of the most exciting, and beautiful music. In particular, she was thinking of the BIG BAND ERA, which marked those years with some of the best bands we have ever known.

The problem then was, how could the small band of 4 possibly provide BIG BAND sound?

Abby thought for a while, then trotted off to talk with Shadow about an idea she had.  She told him of her thoughts concerning a 40's Night, and added that SURELY, among all the crew and passengers, there must be some who played instruments back in their home towns! There were plenty of spare instruments in the Band's Store Room that could be used.

Shadow decided that it was well worth a try!  So they made an announcement, requesting all musicians to report to the Purser's Office. Shadow conducted auditions, and soon he had a BIG BAND in the making!

They rehearsed for the next few days, until they had what Shadow called  "The 1940's Sound" - and it was GOOD!

He was thrilled with the way the 'extras' had pulled together with his own Band. He even offered some of the amateur musicians a job! In particular was young Teddy, who surprised everyone with his supurb playing of the Clarinet, and young Guinness N on Sax. (As Teddy's last name was 'Miller' they wondered if he might be related to the great man of the same name!)

When the BIG BAND NIGHT was officially announced, Shadow and his Swing Band were ready.

They surprised everyone. All were amazed to see their friends sitting up there, looking very professional and playing the music of the great Band Leaders of the 40's.

Soon, the ship's Grande Ballroom was filled with dancing figures. Some even came dressed in WW2 costumes that they'd hired at the Novelty Shoppe - to set the pace for the music of the 40's.
So impressed were the passengers, that they stood listening to the Band, swinging their heads and tapping their feet to the beat. The opening selection was a perfect 'Party Starter', and many of the girls now understood why so many of their boyfriends were not with them. They were IN THE BAND!

Everyone cheered and clapped when Finnegan G, Hurley, Cooper, Rudy, Guinness N and Jimmy called out the title at the appropriate times in the music, while Riley M, on Drums, gave his best and most exciting performance of all time.  There was some pretty hot trumpet playing, too, by the boys in the back row!
Click pause button, then click on white arrow to continue with second tune.   
      (Let this one finish first, though!)   
Oh, what a magical night it was! Paris Gowns, costumes reminiscent of the war years, and an abiding sense of romance in the air.

Punky and Bristol, of the Passionate Pooches,were joined by another recently discovered songbird, Miss Cassie! Together, they dressed up as the Andrews Sisters, and sang to the music of the Big Band's rendition of OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY.

What talented passengers were on this Cruise!  One began to wonder who might pop up next with a surprise!
As Abby was on duty, she couldn't wear any of her Paris gowns, but she looked pretty smart, anyway, in her Officer's formals. So good, in fact, that she had the admiration of one of the Beauty Queens! (Maggie was Miss South America, and she had excellent taste in clothes.)

Scooch was feeling lonely without Rudy at her side, but Nelly, another of the Beauty Queens (Miss Mexico) wasn't past doing a 'solo dance' in public!

Bella and the Captain were in another world listening to 'their song'.
Abby was taking Jimmy's place as official photographer while Jimmy was busy in the Band, and she grouped together several of those who had taken the trouble to dress up in costumes to suit the 40's Big Band Era.

Griffin satisfied a childhood dream of becoming a sailor, while Kansas acted out her wish to be a Nurse. It seemed that either everyone preferred the Navy, or that the Novelty Shoppe had a larger supply of Naval uniforms!

The big surprise was when Princess Emma entered with a jovial Brady, who was being VERY familiar with the Royal Lady. Both were dressed in Army uniforms and apparently getting a huge kick out of the evening!  (Abby had a suspicion that they had already sampled the champagne!)

Murphy had scored the only Marine uniform available, and Keeleigh was most impressed.
Cody had swapped his Ship's uniform for that of an officer of the US Navy, and the lovely 'Miss Wheaten World',  Morgan, found a matching female officer's uniform. They certainly were a 'Peach of a Pair'!

The great Tuckerotti settled for a 'Blue Jacket', and Killian looked very fetching in her Naval uniform.

Also in a 'Blue Jacket' was Tobey, accompanied by the lovely Miss Reilly, who thought her man deserved a promotion!
The next group to arrive was escorted by a dashing Sydney wearing a British RAF uniform. (Now WHERE did he get that?) Sister Ella found herself wishing that she could have worn a costume, but, well, there you go! The self-denial of being a Nun!

Katie S, Brandi B and Kelsie preferred to wear the gowns they'd purchased in Venice, and lovely they were, too!
After a while, the Band took a break, and all the boys rushed to the bar to 'wet their whistles' - so to speak.

The dance floor cleared and, when everyone was seated, Abby mounted the stage to make an announcement. She tapped the microphone a couple of times and waited until she had a hushed audience.

"I have a surprise for you now," she said, with a trace of a smile in her voice.

"We are fortunate to have some very talented young ladies travelling with us.  Many of you saw them perform in Marseille during the intermission in Shadow's Recital." She paused to look around the room at the expectant faces.

"Well, now they are going to entertain us again, so put your paws together for - BRANDY G, DARCY, and KHAKI,who will perform THE SAILORS' HORNPIPEfor us!" 

There was thunderous applause and some confusion, as STELLA approached the stage with an Irish Whistle!    Then it became clear what was about to happen. Stella was to play the traditional music to accompany the three ballerinas.

There was a gasp of delight as the three dainty girls flitted onto the stage, dressed appropriately, and commenced to leap,  hop and carry out the most complicated foot movements the audience had ever seen!

It was an award-winning performance in every way! These girls were headed for FAME!
At the end of the performance, there were standing ovations from the packed Ballroom, and Hurley, who was sitting close by watching his little prodigies, smiled with pride. Yes, he thought, they would certainly be signed by his friend in New York.  He would wire him right now, and tell him to be ready to watch the best talent he'd seen yet.


The remainder of the evening continued at a slower, and more romantic pace, but the music continued to draw passengers and crew onto the floor to dance.

It was well into the morning hours when the last couples trudged wearily to bed, and the Band packed up its instruments to 'call it a day'!

What a thrilling night it had been for all!

The next day was the day before the Weddings. Preparations were underway, and the 'Brides and Grooms to be' were beginning to feel nervous. Gowns were being carefully checked, and suits pressed at the Ship's laundry, and the whole ships' company looked forward to the occasion.
Copyright - A P  - 2009 -2010