‘Titanic:’ ship sinks but show soars

Posted on 05 May 2017 at 11:35pm

Titanic4bSpoiler alert: Yes, the ship sinks.

But the Uptown Players-Turtle Creek Chorale production of Titanic soared with sound that topped the original Broadway production. I loved the show on Broadway with its measly cast of 40 or 50. But the production that continues through the weekend at City Performance Hall has a cast of 160.

Please don’t confuse this show with that dreadful film with that one song that sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard. This show isn’t about some dopey necklace as in the movie that came out about the same time as the show. The story revolves around the tension between the ship’s designer, its captain and the representative from White Star Lines who wanted to set records on its maiden voyage to beat Cunard, as well as about actual passengers from the ship’s three classes of service. In this version of the story, there are actually characters to care about.

This show, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, is performed with a 15-piece orchestra in concert style. That means the emphasis on the music, with a single set and limited choreography. And what a wonderful score the show has.

On Broadway, once the big ship in the opening scene sails off stage, little scenery was used through the rest of the production, so this version doesn’t suffer one bit from its limited set. In fact, the projection screens worked as well as sets did in the original. As the large wave projected behind the Chorale overtook the Titanic, the feeling of drowning is more effective than in the original.

Powerful voices throughout the huge cast make this a blockbuster — the Strausses, the three Kates, the Thayers, the Beanes — all were wonderful singers. When the Chorale joined in the sound swelled magnificently to fill the room.

The choreography helped keep the show from getting static, but in a few places, was quite energetic. If I had one suggestion at all, it would be that the over-sized stage at the Winspear across the street would have accommodated this production even better. That stage was full, well, at least until half of them drowned.

Great collaboration and looking forward to seeing these two groups continue their successful partnership.

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