Interview: Marla Mindelle Talks Getting Into Character to Play Celine Dion & Shares Details About TITANIQUE!

Marla Mindelle tells us all about creating Titanique: The Maiden Voyage Concert, which streams on Sunday, May 2 at 7:30PM ET.

By: May. 01, 2021
Interview: Marla Mindelle Talks Getting Into Character to Play Celine Dion & Shares Details About TITANIQUE!

Do you want to find out what really happened aboard the Titanic? Well, look no further - Celine Dion is here, and she's ready to take you on the musical voyage of your life.

From Tony Award-winning producer Eva Price and streaming platform Stellar comes the upcoming event TITANIQUE: THE MAIDEN VOYAGE CONCERT, a musical parody of the larger-than-life film, featuring the iconic song catalog of everyone's favorite French-Canadian diva.

Streamed live tomorrow, May 2, 2021 at 7:30PM ET from Le Poisson Rouge in New York, Titanique stars Marla Mindelle (Sister Act, Cinderella, South Pacific) as Celine, Constantine Rousouli (Cruel Intentions, Wicked, Hairspray) as Jack Dawson, Alex Ellis (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Legally Blonde) as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Frankie J. Grande (Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia, "Big Brother") as Victor Garber, Kathy Deitch ("American Horror Story", Wicked, Magic Mike XXL) as The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Kyle Ramar Freeman (Once On This Island Nat'l Tour) as The Iceberg Bitch, John Riddle (Frozen, Phantom of the Opera) as Cal, Randy Blair (Amélie) as Ruth, and Jalynn Steele (The Lightning Thief)and Courtney Bassett (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) as Ensemble. CLICK HERE for tickets and while you await the big night, study up on the company with BroadwayWorld's Stage Mag.

We spoke with Marla Mindelle, Titanique's Celine Dion, about preparing to sing some of the most iconic songs of all time, what to expect from this virtual concert and more!

The concept for this show is so incredible and wacky, please tell me how the idea for Titanique initially came together.

The idea for it came together in all places, a bar, which I think makes sense based on how wacky and wild it is. I was in a bar four years ago with Constantine [Rousouli], who plays Jack in the show. We were doing these dinner theater shows in Los Angeles, these movie parodies, and we were, you know, a little glass of wine, a little tipsy, and he was like, "Okay, I think next up we should do Titanic. We should use all Celine Dion music, I'll be Jack, Alex Ellis will be Rose, Marla, you'll be Celine." And I was like, "In. Your. Wildest. Dreams. Absolutely not." I was like, "This will never, ever happen, and I can't play her she's too iconic!" Long story short, they convinced me to do it, and here we are four years later. Can you believe that?

So, were you already a big Celine Dion fan?

Oh my god, Celine Dion shaped my childhood singing. I literally remember trying to belt 'All by Myself' in my bedroom when I was 13. Still can't do it to this day, but I was such a massive stan of hers, and that's why when Constantine was like, "Marla, you'll be Celine, and you'll just narrate the whole story as if Celine Dion was on the Titanic herself," I was like, "No! I can't do it!" Because I respect her too much, do you know what I mean?

I am also the biggest Celine Dion fan, I saw one of her last shows in Vegas, and she is incredible.

I saw her in Vegas too, and she is one of those kinds of performers and singers, her voice is out of this world. I've just been such a massive fan of hers, all of her songs are pure gold. And what I love about them so much is that they're actually very theatrical songs, they just don't write songs like that anymore, right? When we really started to piece together, "Okay, how do we weave Celine Dion songs into a parody of the Titanic movie?" we were actually shocked because the songs translate so well into the script, and they sound like these highly theatrical musical theatre songs! So, it was really a win-win.

What would you tell your virtual audience members to expect with this show? What songs can we expect to hear?

Okay, any Celine Dion song that you've ever heard and listened to on the radio you will be hearing in the show. I mean, we have 'It's All Coming Back to Me Now', 'All by Myself,' 'If You Asked Me To', 'Tell Him' [the duet] with Barbra Streisand, 'River Deep, Mountain High' which is one of her covers, 'Where Does My Heart Beat Now', you name it, it's in our show. 'Because You Loved Me', I could go on and on. So, for anybody that doesn't know what it is, it's basically Celine Dion believing in her kooky, crazy way, because, you know, she is this kooky angel descended from her own Canadian planet in my honest opinion, she comes to this Titanic museum, she's like, "Hey guys, I swear to god I was on the ship in 1912 and I know the true story." And everyone is like, "Celine Dion, that would make you, like, 200 years old," and she is like, "Just go with me, okay?" And so, she takes this Titanic museum on this wild conspiracy theory that she was on the ship, she knew Jack and Rose, she knew all of the characters from the Titanic movie, and let's just say that it goes wildly off course. But you can't help but go along with it because Celine Dion, in my opinion, is one of the greatest storytellers of all time. If she says something, somehow, someway, you believe it.

What is the rehearsal process like?

We have very, very strict COVID protocols, so we will actually be rehearsing this entire thing over Zoom, which is crazy. We will be rehearsing in the space for four days, getting tested every day while we're rehearsing in the space, blocking, doing lighting, sound. So, this is going to be, not thrown together by any means, but it's certainly going to be a whole new way of rehearsing any sort of live event that I've ever done in my life. And what people can expect to see on stage is a very highly staged reading, because we don't have the luxury of having two months in a space where we don't have masks. It's an entirely new universe. But I think having those parameters is going to make it something very unique and very fun. You're going to be seeing something that feels like a Broadway show, but it's very intimate at the same time.

How exciting is it to be able to reunite with this incredible cast?

Oh my god I think I will... literally just thinking about it I just cry tears of joy. I fancy myself a cold-hearted snake to my core, but this pandemic has broken down even the best of us. And the fact that we have been given an opportunity with our extraordinary producers Eva Price and Maximum Entertainment, and Le Poisson Rouge, to be able to put on live theater in a time when so many people are desperate to see something, to laugh, to live, to love, I feel, as cheesy as this may sound, so unbelievably #blessed that we can be at least one show that can bring a smile to people's faces.

I must ask, how does one get into character to play Celine Dion?

[a la Celine Dion] 'Oh, girlfrien' that is such a crazy question - how do I respond to that?' Literally, I just pretend I am Celine Dion. You know the bracelets 'What Would Jesus Do?' To me it's 'What Would Celine Dion do?' Because she is her own spiritual ditty in my personal opinion. So, to get into character I literally beat my chest a thousand times, I make some crazy faces, I try to do her French-Canadian accent the best I can, and honestly, the thing that I do is I celebrate her to her core. I celebrate Celine Dion because she is a bundle of joy. You've never walked away from Celine Dion without having a smile on your face, right? She's just her own world, and her own planet, and her own being, and I say that in the most respectful way. And that's why I love playing her so much. Because she just makes you laugh, and she sings her face off.

Do you have a favorite song to perform?

I really love performing with the whole cast, we sing 'Tell Him'... so any kind of group number, 'If You Asked Me To'. I say that I like doing the group numbers because it's kind of scary having to sing Celine Dion numbers literally all by yourself. They are very challenging, so I am most appreciative when I am singing and getting to interact with the company, otherwise I get a little bit of Celine Dion stage fright.

You sound great!

Thank you so much. I have literally been in Celine Dion vocal boot camp. My voice teacher has said, "Marla, every single day you need to call up a stranger, or call up a cousin, and you have to sing a song for them." And so, I have called up all of my extended family, one of my aunts has become a song pimp, she hands me numbers, I call people up and I say, "Hi, do you mind if I just sing this Celine Dion song for you? I'm just trying to get it into my body before this concert," because I haven't sung in a year and a half! So, I have really been training for this as if an athlete is training for the Olympics, because her songs are Olympian songs.

There is nothing easy about them.

No, nothing easy, you can't float, you can't coast, you have to give 150% every single time, and so I've been really trying to do that in my waking day. I sing through the show every single day, I'm doing warm ups, I'm singing to cousins, my family most likely wants to kill me because I've been singing the same songs over and over again.

Now that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and theatres are beginning to open up, what's next for Titanique? Are you looking to bring back live performances of the show?

Absolutely! Before the pandemic started, we had a home for the show, it was going to go Off-Broadway. And when the pandemic happened, obviously, everything shut down, as well as our show, and the past year and a half has been trying to see how we can do performances. Can we do performances outdoors? Can we go somewhere else besides New York? Can we go overseas? Eva Price, who did Jagged Little Pill, she had this incredible concert that she did with this app called Stellar, and she said it was so successful that she was like, "I think this should be our first foray into the world seeing our show." But then afterwards, the plan is when the world opens, this show is going to set sail come hell or high water. So that is the goal, to have some inevitable life. But we figured that this could be a great entry point and great marketing plan for people to see the show. And it'll be on this app for five days and people can watch it, and then it's going to disappear, and hopefully the next place that you'll see us popping up is New York.

I hope so, that would be wonderful!

I hope so too. The world is watching New York, and New York is such an integral part of the theater system. Not only New York, all regional theaters. But if there's one thing I think that people are desperate to do right now, it is to be with other people, laughing and watching something and feeling normal again. So, even if you have to do that behind your TV for this incarnation of Titanique, at least it'll be something, and hopefully in six months to a year from now we will be doing it in person.

Do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to share?

I just hope that people want to take a crazy trip on a crazy boat, and I don't think they'll be disappointed. It's going to be so much fun and there are so many Broadway stars in it, and television stars, Frankie Grande, who, again, is his own planet as well in the most beautiful way! It's a joy to be a part of and it's a joy to see, and I think that when people see it they will feel the joy as well.


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