Come aboard the "Titanic" at The Westchester Broadway Theatre.Published: Monday, February 3, 2014 7:00 am By: Christine DiTota Source: Examiner News
This new and more intimate version of the 1997 Tony Award Winning Musical has set sail on the WBT stage.
Based on the true story of the great ship's maiden voyage in 1912, the show takes us from her departure inSouthampton,Englandto sinking in theAtlanticafter striking an iceberg. This chronicle follows several real-life passengers and crew, as well as fictional characters representative of the era.
In its first incarnation, the musical won five Tony Awards, including Best Book (Peter Stone) and Best Score (Maury Yeston). It had what was at the time a record-setting 10 million dollar budget. The original show, set on a tilting stage with a tri-level ship and 40+ actors, left much less to the imagination.
Hard-pressed to keep the show alive in regional theatre because of the expense involved, this edition of "Titanic" was developed. It has stripped away all the bells and whistles, paring the show down to its essential core – it’s not about the ship; it’s about the people on it.
A deceptively simple first act provides a commentary on the rigid social class system of turn of the century British culture. We see the 1st class enjoying the lavish privileges the ship provides, the 2nd class vying for position and desperate to hobnob with the upper crust and the 3rd class relegated to the lower levels, longing for a better life and opportunity in America. Everything is societally status quo. Until the iceberg …
Then BANG, Act 2 begins and everything is changed in an instant. The audience is taken on an emotional journey, watching the characters make life and death decisions. Who stays? Who goes? I found myself constantly asking "What would I have done in this situation? Would I have been given a choice?"
These seemingly simple characters were caught unawares as they romanticized this new technology and the progress it brought to their lives. Suddenly, they are faced with watching the destruction of all that they relied on as truth, the shattering of seeming invincibility. For the survivors, hopes and dreams for their futures are forever changed.
The Westchester Broadway Theatre has unquestionably captured the mood of the musical without trying to exploit the spectacle. Beautiful moonlit nights under breathtaking stars and simple projections guide us to a personal understanding of what it must have felt like to sail on the Titanic
This smaller, yet equally effective version, uses the eyes and emotional response of the actor to convey the grandness of the Titanic. To see the ship, the actors look directly into the audience, and through their minds’ eye the magnificence of the Titanic emerges.
A series of plain white boards are arranged as the backdrop, onto which are projected images of the ship, dates, timelines from the Captain's log and heart-wrenching photos of the passengers on board the Titanic. These depictions create a powerful reality for the audience.
This is a true ensemble piece; the actors’ voices soar through the air with masterful skill. Singling out one or a few of the performers would be a disservice to the whole of this precisely meshed unit. Director Don Stephenson has assembled a well-crafted cast and uses it efficiently to create this moving depiction of a moment in history.
"Titanic" runs through February 23rd. For tickets and information go to www.broadwaytheatre.com or call 914-592-2222