Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Titanic - The Musical
Also see John's review of Dame Edna: My First Last Tour
Titanic opened on April 23, 1997 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It closed on March 21, 1999 after 804 performances. The set encompassed three levels to help form the impression of the size of the ship, and the theatre lobby was redecorated for the production, featuring a complete passenger list of the Titanic painted on the walls. The production received five Tony Awards and one Drama Desk Award. A production of Titanic toured the United States for 100 weeks after closing on Broadway, followed by several other tours with non-Equity performers.
This story of the Titanic has many themes. On the surface, the plot examines society's thirst for creating great artistic and technological achievements even at the risk of tragic failure. On a deeper level it looks at the rigid class system of the time period. The 3rd Class passengers dream of immigrating to a new life in America. The 2nd Class passengers aspire to imitate the leisurely lifestyle of the upper class. The 1st Class passengers aim to maintain their privileged, high profile positions in society. The collision with the iceberg dashes all of these dreams simultaneously, and the subsequent transformation of the passengers and crew set the stage for this show. The script weaves the stories of the passengers and crew nicely, and the music is beautifully written. Yeston indeed has a gift for writing interestingly full-sounding voicings in his harmonies.
Amidst the flurry of congratulations following the recent release of the Carbonell Award nominations (South Florida's equivalent to the Tony Award), it is both exciting and humbling to see a college production with performances that surpass most of those nominated this year. The New World School of the Arts' production values result in a set that is admittedly modest for such an ambitious show. Though all the costuming is on the mark, there are some problems in evenly microphoning the large ensemble of this show. More importantly, however, the singing in the ensemble numbers is just glorious, and the commitment of the cast to their characters and each other is steadfast.
The audience is hooked from the start with the song "There She Is" in which the passengers first see the great ship Titanic. It is followed by a well-sung "Godspeed Titanic" as the ship is launched. "Lady's Maid" is endearingly done by Bethany Pollock, Alison Klineman and Anne Chamberlainwho tenders a nice performance as the fiery Irish Kate McGowan. Carl-Michael Ogle shows vocal maturity as Frederick Barrett singing first the difficult "Barrett's Song" and then the lovely "The Proposal." Tom Anello finds unexpected humor in the character of telegraph operator Harold Bride in "The Night Was Alive." One of the prettiest melodies in the show, "No Moon," regrettable falls short when strugglingly sung by Jonathan Jugo as Fleet.
In real life, Isidor Strauss was the only 1st Class female passenger who refused to board a lifeboat, preferring to perish with her beloved husband of 40 years. Renata Ferreira and Mark Delia Ventura are heartwarming as the elderly Isidor and Ida Strauss. Anne Marie Olson provides the show's comic relief as 2nd Class passenger Alice Beane, with her wide eyes forever grasping glimpses of everything around her. Stephen Perrot as her husband Edgar Beane unfortunately stands out as giving the most forced and awkward performance in the show. Some fine acting is present in the scene surrounding the song "The Blame," as Captain E.J. Smith (Nicholas Duckardt), ship owner J. Bruce Ismay (Jameson Hammond), and 1st Class passenger Thomas Andrews (David Hemphill) argue over who is to blame for the tragedy at hand. There are few songs written for men that emotionally and musically showcase this sort of conflict. All three performers handle their parts movingly and convincingly. NWSA's Titanic is an uplifting and wonderfully performed production from start to finish.
In addition to Titanic, Maury Yeston is best known for writing the music and lyrics to the Broadway musical Nine, for which he won both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award. Yeston also wrote the music and most of the lyrics for the Tony-nominated musical Grand Hotel and collaborated with Arthur Kopit on the musical Phantom. Yeston currently serves on the boards of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Kurt Weill Foundation Publication Project and the Yale University Press Broadway Series.
Titanic - The Musical appeared February 13th-22nd, 2009 in the Louise O' Gerritts Theater at the New World School of the Arts. The theatre is located at 25 NE 2nd Street, in Miami, Florida. The New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a Center of Excellence in the visual and performing arts. It is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida. Through its partnership with the University of Florida, the New World School of the Arts is able to grant Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees. For more information on the New World School of the Arts, you may contact them by phone at 305/ 237-3541, online at www.mdc.edu/nwsa/.
and Crew of the R.M.S. Titanic
First Class Passengers