Review: TITANISH at Seattle Public Theater

Near, Far, Wherever you are, catch this one!

By: Jul. 16, 2022
Review: TITANISH at Seattle Public Theater
Review: TITANISH at Seattle Public Theater
Kooper Campbell and Justine Stillwell in
Titanish at Seattle Public Theater.
Photo credit: Truman Buffett

The Habit has done it again! First, they wowed us with their hilarious sketch comedy, then branched out into sidesplitting playwrighting with the recurring "A Very Die Hard Christmas", not to mention their "Indiana Jones" send up. But now The Habit in conjunction with Seattle Public Theater have set their sights on that 90's epic love story that just couldn't be sunk, "Titanic", with their hysterical "Titanish". And their new show proves they know good comedy.

You know the story, Kate and Leo ... er ... I mean Rose and Jack (Justine Stillwell and Kooper Campbell), two young kids both on the maiden voyage of the Titanic are in love. However, all the chips are stacked against them. They're from different classes, Rose is in First Class and Jack way down in Third. Then there's that pesky issue of Rose's controlling fiancé Caledon Hockley (Darius Sakui) who will stop at nothing to keep his trophy wife under his thumb. But nothing can stop the love that Rose and Jack have. Nothing except for that iceberg that's heading for the ship and a floating door that seems too small but really isn't. (Yes, the issue of whether or not the door is too small to hold both of them will finally be solved.)

Writers Jeff Schell and Ryan Dobosh along with director Mark Siano have taken this enduring love story and turned it on it's head shining a hilarious spotlight on all it's problematic flaws. And while their other works certainly had a musical element, "Titanish" has even more, some covers and some original songs from John Kranz, Mark Siano, and Rob Witmer, making this one a hair's breadth away from being a full blown musical. And before you ask, yes, THAT song is included in the mix. But we'll get to that in a bit.

Review: TITANISH at Seattle Public Theater
Kooper Campbell and Justine Stillwell in
Titanish at Seattle Public Theater.
Photo credit: Truman Buffett

First let's talk about the scenic design and props from Ron Darling and Robin Macartney. The Bathhouse Theater is not huge and yet they've managed a space with an entire ocean liner being struck by an iceberg and still have room left for the dance numbers. And the costumes from Alissa Cattabriga are fantastic including the giant blue ... I can't give away all their secrets. Let me just say, it's not what you think and it's wonderful ... or rather, they're wonderful.

But it's the delectable insanity of the cast that leans into every absurd moment that makes this show what it is. From Hisam Goueli's outrageous ... um ... Italian (I think?) accent as Jack's best friend Fabrizio, to the recurring gag of Molly Brown as played intentionally one note by Misty Doty. And speaking of Doty, she also plays Old Rose as this is, of course, a flashback of hers and you've never met a more fabulously randy and foul mouthed centenarian in your life. Sakui brilliantly leaned into his internal Frat Bro for our antagonist Cale. And so many more in this brilliant ensemble pulling double, sometimes triple duty and nailing every moment.

But this show is about our lovers and Stillwell and Campbell could not be more perfect for our Rose and Jack. Not only do they eerily look like Kate and Leo, but their energy, comedic chops, vocal power, and snark seem to know no bounds. This is my first time seeing Campbell and here's hoping more theaters recognize the goods when they see and hear it because he's it. His voice is so velvety smooth and clear that he could easily go right to the top. And equally on par is Stillwell whom I recently saw in a fantastic production of "Lizzie" and she's just as amazing here. But beyond her stunning vocal prowess, now I got to see her comedic side and she's a wonder. Keep an eye on both of these two as they are destined for great things. I mean, come on, they managed a Celine Dion song and killed it.

Review: TITANISH at Seattle Public Theater
Justine Stillwell and Brandon Felker in
Titanish at Seattle Public Theater.
Photo credit: Truman Buffett

But now I must mention one of the ensemble. Brandon Felker has been killing it in character roles in Seattle for years now. From "Christmastown" to "Jerry Springer: The Opera" (and the list goes on) he manages to bring his A game to each and every role. Here is no exception and I think one of his best. He's the slacker Bodine in search for the "Heart of the Ocean" diamond (or as they keep calling it, "La Merde de la Mer". I'll let you translate that for yourself). He's the drunken, inept Captain of the Titanic more concerned with the place settings at the Captain's Table than the impending doom. And he's ... again, I can't give away all the secrets but this one is a stone cold killer! There's a reason he keeps popping up around town and it's just that people recognize how amazing he is. OK, I'll stop gushing.

Suffice to say this is yet another hit from The Habit and Seattle Public Theater. You'll laugh, you may not cry, but you'll laugh some more, and you'll walk out into the night with a deeper appreciation of the brilliance of The Habit. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give "Titanish" at Seattle Public Theater a "door totally big enough for two" YAY+. Run, don't walk to catch this one. Just don't take an ocean liner to get there. Those things are not safe.

"Titanish" performs at Seattle Public Theater through August 7th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.seattlepublictheater.org.




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