I would like to begin by noting to my audience that all thoughts and findings, perhaps even suggestions, are purely my own and are not paid for by the production, staff, cast, or the sponsor(s) of show seen and reviewed.
Now that that is out of the way–this show was shocking to me.
I liked it–I even found myself wishing the story would have ended a different way instead of the way we all know happened. If you’re a denier, stop reading here and unfollow my blog, because I just can’t with you and your shenanigans.
The producer and assistant director who introduced the show to the audience, providing a bit of background on the story–it was the 106th anniversary of sinking the day I saw the performance. So already, the show opened with a poignant and heavy atmosphere. Most of the time, people in theatre tell non-theatre people to suspend their beliefs and reality for the time they’re watching the show. It adds something special to the air and your enjoyment. However, in this shows case, it’s hard removing yourself from the reality as it is based on documentary files of the survivors and victims.
Aside from the penultimate scene, which I will get to in a moment, one of my favorite scenes and songs was the introduction of the crew and passengers. You met the officers, the architect, and stewards and stewardesses. Then finally, as the crew welcomes on third to first class passengers, you learn the backstories through rousing song by the busybody of Alice Beane. In the production I saw, a very good friend of mine play Alice and this role was one of my personal favorites of hers.
The production was directed to make you feel a part of the family that is a luxury cruise liner–you learn the stories of those you share tight quarters with and, perhaps eventually, share each others lives. There are two moments that stick out the most for me. The first moment is when Kate McGowan spots Jim Farrell and at first glance decides he’s going to be her husband, she won’t take no for an answer. They survive.
The penultimate scene encompasses the second moment when Isidor and Ida Straus ask their steward, Henry Etches, to join them in a champagne toast (he cannot, he must attend to his other guests). They do not survive. Their love for one another is featured in the song “Still.” We find out that after forty years of marriage, they were asked to separate as women were provided first seating on life boats. Ida cannot leave Straus because of her love for him and the life they had built together.
Sidenote: I do imagine Henry probably worked, perhaps with the Straus’, until the end when the ship could go on no longer.
I am not going to lie and say that it was all good, there were moments (roles?) that I feel were not as necessary to move the story. There were more crew than there were passengers and when I reviewed the cast list, this was a decision made either by the author or publishing company. It was balanced well, but it felt a bit heavy. Perhaps that was their intent–who was most affected by the impact?
Now, understand this was the first time I had seen this show and my only juxtaposition is to the movie so I am only going to make this singular comparison. I think I liked this show so much because I saw a perspective that wasn’t just sympathetic to all those suffering at the plight of the moment. These were decisions made and not made effortlessly as I perceived from the movie–the show features the disagreements between creator, financier, and ship master. It is a brilliant entanglement that leads to the downfall of the greatest oceanic liner of its time. Spoiler alert?–Sorry.
As you can tell, I have many feelings on this show but I enjoyed it overall. Not only because 30 of my friends were in the 45+ person cast, but because everybody involved, cast and staff, did the show the ultimate justice. I cannot provide them all with enough accolades on the performance and wish them all the best. I can’t wait to see it again–there won’t be a second review, I promise. ‘Til next time.