Not a musical version of the popular Oscar-winning film; this show is based on real people and events. It launched on Broadway in April 1997, played 830 performances and won four Tony awards. It has been translated and performed successfully around the world. That being said, it is not an easy undertaking for any production company, because the show itself has the potential to be a crashing bore!
Almost all of the songs are ballads. There is only one dance number and there is no strong side-story-line to give the tragic disaster more life. That is why writers of the film added the fictional Jack & Rose.
The three characters from real life that form the basis of the true story portrayed in this show are the cruise line director; the ship’s architect; and it’s captain. Unfortunately, although the performers did an excellent job of both singing and acting, the roles themselves do not evoke strong emotion from an audience. So how then, did Orpheus Musical Theatre Company manage to do such a great job with this show? They succeeded because Paul Legault, their musical director is wonderful!
Right from the get go; the ensemble is fantastic! The voices, the blending and delivery are delightful. I actually got chills numerous times within the first five minutes. Their singing captivated even my nine-year old grandson, a Titanic fanatic. Costume designer Judy Froome deserves praise for the spectacular job creating her truly realistic clothing effect.
Audience members’ enjoyment of this show will be affected by their expectations. People who think of the film and hoping for drama will be disappointed… think operetta. This show has virtually no dialogue, not much in the way of sets and very little choreography. Its strength lies in the quality of its choral ensemble. Attend expecting a great choir and you will enjoy it immensely.
When I asked my grandson what he thought of the show, he said he loved the theme but he thought it lacked excitement. A child of the technological age, he said “You can’t actually show people drowning, but maybe they could have projected some animation on the big screen at the back.” (He was referring to the pale blue backdrop that was on stage for most of the show.) He may not be that far off. Perhaps drama could have been enhanced with some rear screen projection of waves, stormy skies etc.
This reviewer believes that the artistic director and choreographer may have been somewhat at the mercy of the set designer. Creative, yet emphasizing simplicity, the set was primarily meant to resemble enlarged versions of the blue & white architect’s plan, thus underscoring his complicity in the tragedy. Complex in design, the set involved the use of multiple drops, forcing much of the action downstage and thus limiting choreography. This created an interesting effect, but unfortunately forced much of the singing to be done with the performers lined up along the front of the stage.
I loved the scenes in which more of the stage was used, showcasing the immense talents of performers, artistic director and choreographer. The dance scene and the section in which the performers seem to be hanging on for dear life as the ship tilts were particularly well done.
This is a very professional community theatre troupe. Every show they do is spectacular – this one is no exception. See it at Ottawa’s Centrepointe until June 10.