Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 4, Page 12
Alumni Profile - Sailing after a dream

     In February 1995, Stephen Popovich, Delaware '49, and his wife,
Helen, were cruising aboard the Royal Cruise Line's ship, the Royal
Odyssey. They spied a young man wearing a University of Delaware
     When they asked if he had attended UD, his face lit up, and
Steven Shane Wolhar, Delaware '85, introduced himself as the lead
singer in the ship's entertainment shows.
     "Steven has a great talent," says Popovich, of San Jose, Calif.
"During the cruise, my wife and I developed a warm relationship with
him. As my wife says, 'Steven's the type of young man you want to take
home with you.'"
     For much of the last five years, Wolhar, 32, who goes by the
stage name of Steven Shane, has traveled the world on luxury cruise
liners working as a professional entertainer. His most recent tours
have taken him to the South Pacific islands, Australia, Africa, India,
Thailand, China, Japan and Hawaii.
     Previously on the Royal Viking Queen, Wolhar and his troupe went
through the Panama Canal and on to Spain, Portugal, Italy and across
the Mediterranean to Russia, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, England
and Ireland.
     "I've always loved to travel," Wolhar says, "and the cruise lines
gave me that opportunity, along with the chance to perform
professionally and get paid for it all."
     Wolhar's degree from Delaware is in business marketing, with a
minor in theatre/music. On campus, he participated in numerous
workshops and performed in productions of Better and Better and The
Magic Flute.
     Wolhar's first job out of school was as a marketing
representative for a Delaware wine distributor. While he enjoyed the
business atmosphere, he moonlighted in various local theatre
     "The company was priming me for a management spot," recalls
Wolhar. "I did very well-doubled the sales in my territory-but I kept
hearing this little voice about pursuing my dream.
     "Finally, the company gave me an ultimatum about cutting out the
theatre work. I think they were pretty surprised when I quit. I
started working at Wilmington's Three Little Bakers for $18 a
performance, so I had to scrimp and save. It was pretty difficult
financially, making that change, but I knew that this is what I really
     While in New York City for a Broadway audition, Wolhar was
contacted about a tryout for the Bermuda Star Cruise Line as a
singer/dancer. Wolhar was one of four entertainers selected from 150
men and women who auditioned.
     After a successful eight-month cruise, Wolhar was hired as a
singer/dancer on the five-star Royal Viking. He says the ship's
entertainers are on duty virtually all the time.
     "As soon as you step out of your stateroom, you are supposed to
socialize with the passengers," he says. "That's why the auditions
look for personality as well as talent. In return, the entertainers
are treated very well. For example, the captain would send us
champagne and caviar after performances."
     On his last cruise, Wolhar was the ship's entertainment director
as well as the lead performer. His duties included organizing and
overseeing each show, managing a group of eight entertainers and
putting together his own cabaret show.
     "That was a great experience," he says. "I worked on the
arrangement of show tunes and put together a classical cabaret with a
six- and eight-piece orchestra. I was able to work up the songs I
wanted to sing as well as my comments to the audience.
     "In the cruise business, entertainment is one of the key elements
they use to attract customers," he says. "You need to have talented
performers and good shows or the customers won't come back. The
audience is very sophisticated. They have traveled all over the world,
and they have high expectations. I think all of our shows were very
well received."
     In July, Wolhar headed back to New York City with two main goals,
to hire an agent and to pursue work on a Broadway show. He's living on
money he earned on his last cruise and picking up a survival job. He's
also taking voice lessons and acting classes that may help him win
jobs in commercials and soap operas.
     "It's kind of scary," he admits. "I got together with a friend
from the University, and he has a wife, a new baby and a house. I
don't even own a couch.
     "But, right now, I'm feeling very confident from my experience on
the cruise lines. My heart and soul are in theatre, and I'm hopeful I
can make a living from it.
     "The competition is stiff, so you have to be one step ahead of
others in marketing yourself.
     "I think most successful people do what they love. Talent is
really the love of what you do."
                                                         -Terry Conway