It’s a big month for Titanicphiles…it’s the 100th anniversary of the sinking of that fabled ship on April 15, 1912, and while it’s a sad occasion; after all, over 2000 people died in the disaster, it’s still a huge object of fascination for millions of people and the disaster has been featured in thousands of articles, stories, books, films (James Cameron’s Oscar winning film has just been re-released in 3-D to commemorate/make more money off the event), and yes, even a musical.
That musical, was “Titanic” and the announcement back in 1997 that Maury Yeston and Peter Stone had written a musical about the sinking of the ship was met with skepticism based on the appropriateness of the subject matter and the practical concerns on how the sinking could be successfully realized on a stage. It seemed doomed to becoming a theatrical disaster of “Carrie: The Musical” proportions.
But, the musical was beautifully written with lyrics and music by Yeston, and a thoughtful libretto by Stone, and the show was expertly staged and designed. “Titanic: A New Musical” earned strong reviews, a faithful audience and five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book of a Musical. Ultimately, the show was never a financial success due to the huge costs of design, effects and the huge cast, but the show became a critical success with legions of fans all over the world.
Sadly, the enormous costs of staging “Titanic” limit it from being frequently staged by regional theater companies. Small, low budgeted theaters that are non-union do not have the resources to stage a sinking ship, and the big, Equity houses can’t afford to pay union wages to the enormous cast AND the production costs. The result is that “Titanic” is seldom seen.
The 5th Avenue Theatre has a deep love for the story and the music of “Titanic” but also realizes the impracticalities of staging the show for a full production….they have a considerable budget, but a fully realized production of “Titanic” at the 5th would probably mean the rest of their season would have to consist of very tiny, cheap to produce shows like “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. It would be a risky proposition.
But, they came up with a solution. Opening this Friday, April 13th for a weekend of performances, “Titanic: The Musical in Concert” will feature all the music of the Broadway musical in a concert performance. Featuring an all-star cast of local and Broadway performers including Ed Watts, Stanley Bahorek, Greg Stone, Anne Allgood, Ryah Nixon, Allen Fitzpatrick, Timothy Piggee, David Pichette, Jeff Steitzer, and Carol Swarbrick, the concert will also include a full orchestra and the award winning Pacific Lutheran University Choral Union. The concert is being directed by the 5th Avenue’s Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong, with musical direction by Ian Eisendrath.
Titanic: The Concert plays four performances only – April 13-15, 2012 at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101). Tickets (starting at $19.00) may be purchased at www.5thavenue.org, by phone at 206-625-1900, or at the Box Office at 1308 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle.