VIDEO of the Australian premiere production of Titanic the Musical.
CRUISE HISTORY: TITANIC THE MUSICAL TO BE DONE AT KENNEDY CENTER. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS A BIG FAN OF THE MUSICAL ABOUT THE SINKING OF THE RMS TITANIC. THE MUSICAL WILL MAKE NEW CRUISE HISTORY AND IS A GREAT VIEW INTO CRUISING THE PAST.
TITANIC THE MUSICAL
The discovery of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic in 1985 attracted Yeston’s interest in writing a musical about the famous disaster. “What drew me to the project was the positive aspects of what the ship represented – 1) humankind’s striving after great artistic works and similar technological feats, despite the possibility of tragic failure, and 2) the dreams of the passengers on board: 3rd Class, to immigrate to America for a better life; 2nd Class, to live a leisured lifestyle in imitation of the upper classes; 1st Class, to maintain their privileged positions forever. The collision with the iceberg dashed all of these dreams simultaneously, and the subsequent transformation of character of the passengers and crew had, it seemed to me, the potential for great emotional and musical expression onstage.”
Stone and Yeston knew that the idea was an unusual subject for a musical. “I think if you don’t have that kind of daring damn-the-torpedos, you shouldn’t be in this business. It’s the safe sounding shows that often don’t do well. You have to dare greatly, and I really want to stretch the bounds of the kind of expression in musical theater,” Yeston explained. Yeston saw the story as unique to turn-of-the-century British culture, with its rigid social class system and its romanticization of progress through technology. “In order to depict that on the stage, because this is really a very English show, I knew I would have to have a color similar to the one found in the music of the great composers at that time, like Elgar or Vaughan Williams; this was for me an opportunity to bring in the musical theater an element of the symphonic tradition that I think we really haven’t had before. That was very exciting.”
VIDEO on Rosie O’Donnell before the TONY’S of the original Broadway Show TITANIC.
The high cost of Titanic’s set made it impossible for the show to have traditional out of town tryouts. Titanic’s previews began at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1997 with major technical troubles: ironically, during previews the model ship onstage would not sink. These difficulties were mostly resolved by opening night, but the show received mostly negative reviews. The New Yorker’s was a rare positive assessment from the New York press: “It seemed a foregone conclusion that the show would be a failure; a musical about history’s most tragic maiden voyage, in which fifteen hundred people lost their lives, was obviously preposterous…. Astonishingly, Titanic manages to be grave and entertaining, somber and joyful; little by little you realize that you are in the presence of a genuine addition to American musical theatre.”
Nevertheless, the show became a surprise hit. Many credit at least part of the show’s success to former talk show host Rosie O’Donnell who championed the show, featuring members of the original cast on her daytime talk show and giving away tickets to members of her studio audience. The show got a further boost when it won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards. The release of James Cameron’s film Titanic in December 1997 helped fuel worldwide interest in the disaster, and the Broadway production continued through much of 1998 drawing huge crowds. Attendance began to dwindle in the early months of 1999, and when the musical closed it was still a long way from showing a profit.
Titanic opened on April 23, 1997 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and ran for 804 performances and 26 previews, closing on March 21, 1999. Directed by Richard Jones with choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, the cast included Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, and Brian d’Arcy James. Danny Burstein was a cast replacement. The lobby of the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre was redecorated for the production: the complete passenger list of the Titanic was painted on the walls, noting those who ultimately survived the disaster. The set encompassed three levels to help form the impression of the size of the ship.
Orchestrator Jonathan Tunick won the first Tony Award for Best Orchestrations for his work on the score. The show received five Tony nominations, winning in all five categories, though the director, Richard Jones, was not nominated, nor were any of the performers.
The production toured the United States for 100 weeks after closing on Broadway, followed by several other tours with non-Equity performers. A Dutch touring production (European premiere) opened on 23 September 2001 in Royal Theatre Carre, Amsterdam. It was also highly successful, and produced an original cast recording (sung in Dutch) as a companion to the original Broadway cast recording on RCA Records. On 7 December 2002 a German production opened in Hamburg, a copy of the Dutch production. A cast recording was made in German. A new song was written for the German production, Drie Tage (Three Days), but the song was not included on cast album. It was recorded and released on a German karaoke cd called Professional Playbacks: Showtunes Vol. 1.
The Toronto, Canada version premiered in February 2006 and the Australian production starring Nick Tate as Captain Smith debuted in October 2006. The production made it’s UK premiere at York Theatre Royal. The musical made its London premiere in Stevenage at the Gordon Craig Theatre August 2004 Directed by Paul laidlaw Designed By David Benson.
In Japan, a short one-month engagement played from January to February in early 2007. The Premiere in Cardiff, Wales, was performed from 15-19 May 2007 at the Sherman Theatre by Llandaff Musical Society.
On May 17, 2005, Belfast Operatic Company premiered the show in Ireland in the Grand Opera House, Belfast, Northern Ireland. The show ran from 17 May to 21 May with a cast and crew of more than 100 people.
On February 9, 2008, Ballinrobe Musical Society, under the direction of Noel Kirrane, performed the first ever production to take place in the Republic of Ireland. The show ran from 9th to 16th of February and was sold out for the entire week, playing to over 3000 people in the process. Michael Coen played Captain Edward Smith. There were French productions in Belgium in the cities of Liege and Charleroi. The show premiered in Finland on 29 March 2008 in Seinajoki City Theatre.
Titanic the musical has been translated into five languages: Japanese, French, Dutch, German and Finnish.