Katharine McPhee and More Prove the Power of Allies Aboard VACAYA's Inaugural Cruise

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday August 15, 2019

There's an unmistakable sense of solidarity aboard VACAYA's inaugural cruise. The LGBTQ tour operator — add I (intersex), A (asexual or ally), P (pansexual or polyamorous) and K (kink) for good measure — has cast a wide net to snag travelers searching for an inclusive and welcoming experience.

But in the first few days of an itinerary sailing north to St. John, Canada, then onto Bar Harbor, Maine, and finally the queer nirvana of Provincetown, it's the ally voices ringing loudest among the circuit-inspired pool deck parties and ding of silverware at the midnight buffet.

Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth symbolically inaugurated the cruise, entering the stage in a rainbow-sequined mini and substantial black heels. A glowing smile projected across the crowd with a simple greeting that spoke volumes: "My people!" A few tunes and tawdry jokes later, the Tony Award winner christened the cruise, and VACAYA named her "Queen of the High C's." One of those numbers was a duet with "American Idol" alum Katharine McPhee, who recently appeared in the London production of "Waitress."

McPhee headlined several nights later, and while her vocals were in top form (along with a surprise guest appearance from her new husband David Foster, winner of an astonishing 16 Grammy Awards), it was her appreciative message of acceptance that reverberating through the audience.

"It's so cool to be among people who just want to love who they want to love," said the singer, a huge smile across her face and gazing into the crowd to connect with Foster. She referenced the challenges the couple has faced from those with raised eyebrows, questioning their 34-year age difference. But anyone in that venue could see that their love is nothing short of palpable.

Among McPhee's pitch-perfect set was "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," (adapted from "My Fair Lady"), "God Bless the Child," and hits from the short-lived TV series "Smash." For an encore, sporting a rainbow boa, McPhee sang "Over the Rainbow," her first single, produced by Foster in 2006.

Later that evening, Tori Scott performed in the ship's Rendezvous Lounge. Scott is a regular at Joe's Pub in New York City, and much like Bette Midler in her sauna days has become a queer crowd favorite. The belter tailored much of her show to the gay men in the audience (a rant about day drinking with her gay buddies was spot-on and laugh-out-loud funny) but didn't leave behind the lesbians on board with a medley of female-written songs by Melissa Etheridge and the like.

McPhee and Foster (along with a mostly drunk bottle of Patrón tequila) showed up to enjoy the show and graciously mingle with the crowd. Her mother, notable vocal coach Peisha McPhee, is also on board and has been seen catching most of the other acts. VACAYA's entertainment programming is, perhaps, the newly launched company's best-kept secret. Until now.

There is an unspoken bloodline among Chenoweth, McPhee, Scott and other allies that deeply connects such performers with the LGBTQ community. It's an energy that conveys a reciprocal love in which they value our acceptance as much as we value theirs. The 'High C's' never rang more clearly.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.