Grander and larger than any ship built before it, labelled unsinkable, and billed as the “ship of dreams,” the RMS Titanic symbolized hope, not only for the 2,200 aboard, but also for the millions around the world following the news of its maiden voyage. Perhaps that’s why, more than 100 years after its tragic sinking four days into that voyage, the Titanic disaster continues to capture attention. Numerous books, plays songs, and poems have been written about it, including TITANIC, THE MUSICAL. Mainstage Center for the Arts presents this production July 23, 24, 28, 29.
Featuring a cast of nearly 40 performers, Titanic, the Musical, introduces the audience to real-life individuals who played an integral part in the fateful voyage. Based on actual characters aboard the ship, Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s extraordinary musical focuses on their hopes and aspirations. Whether they were third class immigrants, second class or first class passengers, all boarded with dreams for the future. The play provides great insight into the lives of these individuals. It also features beautiful, and sometimes haunting, music. The Broadway production won five Tony awards including best musical, score and book.
“This is a beauty of a show. When Cherry Hill East presented it in ’06 I was the technical director and designed the set. I just fell in love with the music and I think our audiences will really love it, too,” said Tom Weaver, director. “Also, like one of the most popular television shows in recent years, Downtown Abby, Titanic, the Musical gives you a chance to see how the other half lives. You see the corruption and greed of the ship’s owner; the lack of lifeboats so more first class cabins could fit. It’s interesting, after the Titanic disaster and World War I, the upper crust were less idolized. It became time to give more average people a chance to succeed.”
Leading actors include Robert Weaver, of Cherry Hill, who portrays Thomas Andrews. Andrews was in charge of the plans for Titanic at Harland & Wolff Shipbuilders. He sailed to observe how well she did on her maiden voyage, constantly noting problems and ways to further perfect her functioning and comfort for passengers and crew alike. Phillip Pallitto, of Linwood, portrays J. Bruce Ismay, owner of the White Star Line and David Wible of Glassboro plays Captain E.J. Smith, who was lured out of retirement to take command of Titanic’s maiden voyage. Julian Pellegrino, cast as Alice Beane, is a second class passenger who was never happy with what she had. On multiple occasions, she tries to infiltrate first class.
“Alice’s character helps the audience to better understand how classes were truly divided during the time period. She adds a sense of comic relief within a musical jam packed with drama. She is one of many characters that brings reality and connection to a tragedy that occurred so many years ago,” said Pellegrino.
Frederick Barret, portrayed by John Keating of Glassboro, is another character that helps the audience connect with those on the Titanic. A stoker, who performs grueling work. Barret takes takes the giant step of sending a marriage proposal back to his girl on shore via the newfangled wireless. When the ship sinks he gives up a place steering one of the lifeboats, and sings a powerful goodbye to his lost love.
While men like Barret were heroes that night, accounts profile Ismay as a coward who made certain that he had a spot on a lifeboat. Palitto speaks about portraying this character, “We all know the story of the Titanic, of course, and over the years have heard the varying theories of what (or who) actually sank the Titanic. Through these accounts, J. Bruce Ismay, the owner of The White Star Line has always appeared to be the villain in his hopes to have Titanic break all of the records. That presents me with the challenge of making the audience like my character, and allowing the audience to derive their own theory and conclusion about the disaster. What I adore most about this show, is all different classes of people of all different ethnicities have a dream of doing something new, something great in America. This version of Titanic focuses on these characters.”
Additional actors from Gloucester County include: Quentin Ortega of Glassboro (Second Officer, Lightoller), Isaac Knipel, of Woodbury, (Third Officer ), Rachel Campbell of Deptford (Bellboy), John Kauffeld of Washington Township (Isadore Strauss), Siani Lucky of Deptford (Marion Thayer), Logan Kauffeld of Washington Township (Charles Clark) and Nicole Dawdy of WIlliamstown (Caroline Neville).
Mainstage’s production of Titanic, the Musical is sponsored by First Bank and Meadows Diner. It runs July 23, 29, and 30, 7:30 pm and July 24, 2 pm in the fully-accessible Dennis Flyer Theatre, Camden County College. To purchase tickets, visit www.mainstage.org, or call (856) 227-3091.
Photo caption: Samantha Mautner, Veronica Robertson, and Katie Aylesworth portray Kate McGowan, Kate Mullins, and Kate Murphy, respectively, known as the three Kates. Aylesworth is the choreographer in the musical’s one big dance number.
Mainstage Center for the Arts, located in Blackwood, NJ is committed to make the arts experience enjoyable for all its patrons. In an effort to make the shows, concerts, events, workshops, classes, and offices accessible to as many as possible, Mainstage offers many services for patrons requiring assistance. For anyone in need of assistance, please notify the office at 856-227-3091 at the time of purchasing tickets, or at least five days prior to the event you are attending.
Mainstage Center for the Arts, the parent program for Summer Stage, is a 501 © (3) non-profit organization committed to providing a creative, vibrant, and nurturing environment for youth and adults. This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Theater/Organization Mainstage Center for the Arts, Dennis Flyer Theater
Theater/Organization Website: http://www.mainstage.org
Theater/Organization Address: 200 College Drive Blackwood, New Jersey 080812 (Map It)
Theater/Organization Phone: (856) 227-3091