Previews: Starring Buffalo Presents TITANIC At Shea's 710 Theatre

Massive Forces Bring Yeston's Hit Musical to the Stage

By: May. 20, 2024
Previews: Starring Buffalo Presents TITANIC At Shea's 710 Theatre
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It's all aboard for "the largest moving object in the world," sings the  owner, designer and captain of the doomed ship Titanic. And Buffalo is in for a rare presentation of the 1997 TONY AWARD winning musical TITANIC, composed by Maury Yeston .

Starring Buffalo will once again engage choice Broadway talent alongside some of Buffalo's finest actors and a chorus of over 50 singers to present a concert version of TITANIC at Shea's 710 Theatre on May 31 and June 1, 2024

Not unlike the infamous ship, the musical had a rocky preview period as a multi-million dollar production took  to the the Lunt Fontanne stage in New York. The entire stage was rebuilt with complicated hydraulics that allowed for a sinking ship right on stage. But the large number of characters and technical issues plagued the early previews. Judicious cuts, character eliminations and a glowing endorsement from talk show host and Broadway enthusiast Rosie O'Donnell allowed the show to triumph, winning multiple TONY AWARDS, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.

But the immensity of the production all but sealed it's doom for future presentations, until a rewritten version condensed to a 20 person cast and a simplified set showed how this fascinating musical could again be successful on a smaller scale. Now regional companies program the show frequently. In 2015, Toronto saw this pared down version in a captivating production. Starring Buffalo Artistic Director states, " this new version is, I think, the definitive one.  I believe it is an improvement on the original, and has had a lot of success around the world.  The show is now merely gigantic, rather than titanic!"    

Starring Buffalo is presenting this  ENSEMBLE EDITION in it's signature style, with limited staging and a cast holding their music scores. This effective style allows the audience to focus on the musical nature of the work, and TITANIC's score is sweeping in grandeur with large choral passages and intimate duets and trios.  

Fornarola continues to search for the best of Broadway's talent who are available for each production.  "Because Shea's hosts a number of first national tours," he says, "a lot of our actors actually have been through before and recount fond memories of touring earlier in their careers.  Others are new to Buffalo, and we consistently hear that they are impressed with the quality of the Shea's 710 facilities, the talent of our regional performers and musicians, and the warmth and enthusiasm of our audiences. 

Diane Phelan will be coming in from New York City to play the role of Alice Bean. In preparing for the part she is discovering the multi layers of this character. Phelan states "for me Alice epitomizes the feeling of the American dream, as she comes to a place where she can rise above her station and class." Victoria Clark brilliantly  created the role in the original Broadway production
 

Previews: Starring Buffalo Presents TITANIC At Shea's 710 Theatre
Diane Phelan

Phelan was an original cast member of the highly successful 2022 ENCORES production of INTO THE WOODS, playing the role of Cinderella  for that company as it went to Broadway and later on the National Tour. Shea's Buffalo was the city that launched that tour and where technical rehearsals took place.

Phelan recalls how "Buffalo was such a special city that fully embraced the cast" as they gave their first public performance outside of New York. 

Phelan, who is half Filipino and half Irish, works hard to break ethnic barriers in casting. "Going forth, we can decide who gets to tell the stories, without worrying about the 'periodness' of traditional casting."  She seeks to attain equitable and inclusive casting, using her advocacy in the form of representation. Phelan already has been the first Asian American actress to play Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC in any American professional company, and hopes to add the role of Jenna in WAITRESS to her repertoire.

Previews: Starring Buffalo Presents TITANIC At Shea's 710 Theatre
Rodney Ingram

Rodney Ingram comes to town from just finishing a run as the title character in Disney's ALADDIN in Mexico City, having also played the role on Broadway. A graduate of the CAP21 Conservatory in New York City, he has  appeared as Raoul in the 30th Anniversary production of Broadway's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

Previews: Starring Buffalo Presents TITANIC At Shea's 710 Theatre
Jonathan Young

The cast includes  Jonathan Young, who recently performed in the National tour of the musical  PRETTY WOMAN, as well as Buffalo-based recording artist Jay Dref (Sarah Brightman's 'A Christmas Symphony'). Local performers include Louis Colaiacovo, Keith Ersing, David P. Eve, Alex Anthony Garcia, Karen Harty, Jake Hayes, Jetaun Louie, Charles McGregor, Kayla McSorley, Mary Kate O'Connell, John Patrick Patti, Rachel Ross and Christopher Wagner.

Previews: Starring Buffalo Presents TITANIC At Shea's 710 Theatre
Jay Dref

The six piece band, scored to mirror the original Titanic's on ship band, will be conducted by Alison d'Amato. Fornarola stage directs, with choreography by Jeanne Fornarola, projection design by Hannah S. Wolland, and assistant direction by Sabrina Kahwaty. The production team includes stage managers Ally Hasselback and Michael Morog, executive director Michael Russo, and associate artistic director Emily Glick.

Performances are May 31st at 7.30pm and June 1st at 2pm and 7:30 pm at Shea's 710 Theatre. For additional information and tickets , visit StarringBuffalo.org or sheas.org.




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