FLASH FRIDAY: Ship Of Dreams! TITANIC Is Set To Sail Back To Broadway This Fall
Today we are celebrating a particularly epic and eminently emotionally evocative Best Musical Tony Award winner just announced to be returning to the Great White Way later this year in a stripped-down, back-to-basics production based on a recent rapturously-received hit London revival - Maury Yeston and Peter Stone's TITANIC!
In Every Age
Originally opening on April 23, 1997 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and ultimately running there for 804 performances, the premiere production of TITANIC started out as anything but a dream - the preview period itself has been described by many directly involved as an all-out nightmare, as a matter of fact; and, understandably so. Originally book-ended by a contemporary prologue and epilogue depicting the unearthing of the famed drowned luxury ship in 1986, the musical was extensively revised and rewritten over the course of its somewhat long preview period. Composer/lyricist Maury Yeston adjusted many musical passages and added material that would go on to become among the most cherished in the score, while master bookwriter Peter Stone and director Richard Jones continued to shape and refine the complex, multi-layered story weaving together fact and fiction in an entertaining and intriguing manner. Undoubtedly, the most problematic element of all those endured during the 27 previews was the oft-malfunctioning three-tiered set, which reflected the sinking of the ship as the show progressed with an increasingly raked series of levels upon which the actors inhabited the various classes on the ship - steerage to crow's nest. It was a massive production and the famous sinking of the ship was addressed in a surprising way, indeed, yet the prospects of the production as a whole looked quite dire as it faced unfavorable reviews once it finally opened and the production was at last finalized and frozen.
Nevertheless, TITANIC quickly became a hit with audiences - thanks in no small part to the fact that the musical found an early champion in Broadway lover and then-talk show queen supreme Rosie O'Donnell, who praised the new musical continually on her daytime TV talk show - and it managed to run more than two years on Broadway, certainly proving early naysayers wrong. So, what precisely is it about TITANIC that made it a must-see musical back in 1997 and also a delectably revival-worthy property today? Why, the performance opportunities amply afforded by that majestic score and smart, sharp book - let alone the inherent real-life historical attributes contained within them!
Plus, just take a look at that simply remarkable original Broadway cast, with a number of them in early if not their very first major roles - Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, Brian D'Arcy James, David Garrison, Alma Cuervo, Larry Keith, John Cunningham, Becky Ann Baker, Judith Blazer, Martin Moran, David Elder, Theresa McCarthy, Michele Ragusa, Ted Sperling, Henry Stram, Clarke Thorell and William Youmans, to name but a few! How can this new 2014 production ever hope to possibly match, let alone eclipse that vast assortment of phenomenal talent? Well, with a cast of a dozen or so and an orchestra of about half that size - at least judging by the production this revival will be based on - it will be a smaller scale affair, in any event, but with just as rich acting potential allowed to the ensemble of actors.
Additionally, long before Fall, fans of TITANIC will be able to satiate themselves with the February anniversary reunion concert showcasing the original cast of TITANIC, as well - proving, yet again, that TITANIC lives on... in every age!
Check out my recent InDepth InterView with original TITANIC cast member Victoria Clark discussing the TITANIC reunion, as well as sharing stories from the original production, available here.
So, now, let's take a look at some of the highlights from the original production of TITANIC as well as sample some subsequent revivals from around the world as we anticipate the new 2014 edition.
First up, take a look behind the scenes of the creation of the original production of TITANIC with this informative vintage documentary.
Now, experience the original cast of TITANIC performing the spine-tingling opening medley on THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW.
Next, Brian D'Arcy James and Martin Moran sing "The Night Was Alive" on THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW.
The original Broadway cast of TITANIC perform "There She Is" and more in a special musical medley on the Tony Awards, where the show would go on to reap 5 major awards that year.
Catch the original cast of TITANIC joining a slew of other Broadway shows of the era participating in this spectacular medley at halftime of the 1998 NBA All-Stars Game.
Get a glimpse of the production as it was actually seen live on Broadway at the time with this audience capture clip of the chilling Act One Finale and its subsequent iconic iceberg incident.
After that, take in this awe-inspiring 2012 international production of TITANIC set on an actual dock, on a stage big enough to be a real luxury liner!
Also, sample this sensational scene from a recent professional Sydney, Australia production.
Another international TITANIC cast is spotlighted in this clip from an awards show in 2001.
After sampling that, here is one of the most beloved songs from the score as heard on the original Broadway cast recording, the stirring duet "Still".
View the list of those lost on the actual Titanic as seen in the final moments of the Southwark Playhouse production which is now headed to Toronto and then Broadway later this year.
Lastly, three words say it all: TITANIC flash mob! Wow!
So, what exactly is it about the many charms of TITANIC that appeal to you most and compel you to seek revisiting the material in this new revival coming later this year? Is it the drama and tragedy implicit in the actual historically-based story being told? Is it the chance to hear Yeston's rapturous score live once again? Or, perhaps you are curious to see what new performers will bring to this assortment of rich and varied roles as laid out by Yeston and Stone? Whatever the reason, TITANIC is on course for a bang-up Broadway return and with a show this enjoyable it should be nothing but smooth sailing starting this Fall. Until then... bon voyage!
From This Author Pat Cerasaro