Review of Titanic The Musical
Story and Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston
Directed by Gene Abravaya
Music Direction by Tina Lloyd Meals
Choreography by Kate Kenyon
For tickets / schedule :
Spreckels Performing Arts Center
Rohnert Park, CA
Spreckels Theatre Company
RUN: October 14-30, 2016
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(October 15, 2016)
The Titanic disaster has fascinated and appalled generations in the catastrophic loss of life that could have been prevented “if only”. What if they had rammed the iceberg head on, leaving more watertight bulkheads in tact? What if there had been enough lifeboats aboard to hold the entire crew and passengers? What if the SS Californian wireless operator had stayed on call ten more minutes, and heard the distress call? Titanic The Musical could have been a stirring tragedy, emphasizing the pathos of the event, rather like Les Misérables. Instead, it examines the entire journey, capturing the dynamic radiance surrounding Titanic’s maiden voyage, from the sparkle of glittering evening gowns in First Class to elated Irish emigrants dreaming of a new world, and the stokers sweating their passage in front of a boiler, remembering sweethearts at home.
The setting moves throughout the floating city, where we glimpse eloping lovers, a henpecked husband, stewards, officers, the wireless operator, and luxurious upper class passengers, augmented by historical photographs and researched illustrations of Titanic looming over the stage, especially dramatic in her massive engine room. In the hindsight of knowledge, it is easy to consider the voyage ill fated, but that is not how she was seen when pulling away from the dock in Southampton. Passengers are giddy with excitement on the ship of dreams, based on actual historic figures, such as Ismay (Jeremy Berrick) who pompously insists they pick up speed, no matter the cost, Captain Smith (Steven Kent Barker) who is ready to retire, and making a final voyage for the company, Ida Straus (Cindy Brillhart-True) and her husband Isidor Straus (Kit Grimm) co-owners of Macy’s department store, who refused seats on a lifeboat, perishing together in a bittersweet duet Still while the ship sinks.
Driven primarily by song, this staged concert has the feel of an opera, with interspersed dialog moving the story along. An extensive cast brings the ship to life through a series of impressively swift costume changes, populating steerage in a lively Lady’s Maid pondering what roles they will have in America, to the condescending aristocracy’s What A Remarkable Age This Is! In a crisp dark evening, Titanic strikes the iceberg, prompting an electrifying second act, as different classes are forced to depend on one another, some choosing to make sacrifices for strangers, and others giving in to terror, seeking only to save themselves. The musical languishes in its final moments, opting for a heavy handed denouement, rather than allowing characters to speak for themselves, and the audience to reflect on the experience.
Come aboard the Titanic for a remarkable excursion into history—join the passengers as they hope and dream; a harmonious cast of remarkable singers recreates life aboard in 1912. If you are wondering how the story of Titanic could be turned into a musical, and are skeptical of the Spreckels’ production, put your doubts aside and prepare to be astonished at this moving tribute to an unforgettable event.