REVIEW: Titanic the Musical

Titanic the Musical is a musical retelling of the life and times of a fateful ship with more celebrity than Paris Hilton even before the run-in with the iceberg that made it legendary.

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What did you think? Did the songs in the musical stick with you long after, or were they, and most else about Titanic the Musical just kind of “meh”? Or was the historicalness of the tale enough to keep your interest? Tell us in the comments below.

Titanic the Musical runs until June 10th at Centrepointe Theatre. Full details on Orpheus Theatre’s website.

For lovers of the written word, here’s the full review in print form:

Titanic the Musical is a musical retelling of the tragic misfortune that befell the ocean liner most poorly branded, unsinkable. Not in any way, shape, or form to be confused with James Cameron’s billion dollar blockbuster, Titanic the Musical is more of a historical tribute than it is any kind of narrative. Aside from the obvious – this ship is headed for doom – any semblance of story is very thin and most of the many characters lack any depth. While your mileage may vary – maybe the sheer historicalness of the thing is enough for you –it all ends up kind of boring.

We open with Titanic’s designer, Thomas Andrews belting out a tune about the intention in her design and then we’re into the boarding procession. First class passengers, second class passengers, third class passengers, crew. We see them all board and learn bits and pieces about an absurdly large number of them as we continuously switch back and forth between groups with none of them really having any story or goal within the voyage. They’re all kinda just sitting around waiting for it.

And so in large part because there’s no real connection to the characters, most of the music falls short. Most often, songs in musicals are memorable because we feel along with the characters but when you can barely remember the characters’ names and they only have stock stories, there’s not a lot to work with. Bottom line, there aren’t any really memorable songs here, so don’t expect to be humming any on the way out.

Of course, for all that, Orpheus can only be faulted for not picking better material. Because as far it goes, their production of Titanic the Musical is fine and has some strong moments. The minimalist blueprint-like sets are interesting even if they take a bit of getting used to and the actual sinking of the Titanic was well done.

Cast standouts include Michael McSheffrey as Radioman Harold Bride and Justin Hills as Stoker Fred Barrett whose characters suffered the same lack of development as everybody else but whose strong voices made their dual singing of The Proposal and The Night Was Alive one of the high points of the show. And Sascha Wiessmeyer’s charm and great Irish accent helped make her Kate McGowan stand out a bit above the crowd.

Sadly, there wasn’t much else notable to speak of. The cast was largely all right but there just wasn’t much meat on the bones of any of them to make them memorable. The solos were well sung but the choral songs, of which there were many, lacked unity and kind of droned, making it hard to make out the lyrics. But it all comes back to the lack of any real story here. James Cameron had the good sense to tell a strong story, focused on select characters, that just happened to be set on the Titanic, and this musical would have been better for taking that approach.

Disclosure: On Camera Reviewer, Kurt Shantz did not attend Titanic the Musical. Review was written by Allan Mackey who left the on camera delivery to the professionals.

Show producer: Allan Mackey
Reviewer: Allan Mackey
On Camera Presentation: Kurt Shantz
Show produced by Valley Wind Productions for Production Ottawa
Photo in this article and in the review, provided by Orpheus Theatre.

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Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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What people are saying:

  1. Reena Belford says:

    I had a completely different reaction. I walked in expecting to feel rather indifferent about it… and ended up loving it. Loved the costumes, loved the music, loved the sets. Wasn’t bothered by the limited character development strangely The actual sinking was the one part that DIDN’t work for me. But overall I had a very positive experience. And while I agree that selection plays a big part for Orpheus (their choice of plays doesn’t always thrill me), this one certainly played to the crowd. The night I went (Tuesday of this week) it looked to be almost at capacity and mostly seniors. So I guess they know their crowd. Mind you, when I saw their production of Rent, it was ALSO full - so it’s a good thing to cater to different types of audiences. They ARE out there.

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