Reviewed by Tony Villecco
It doesn’t appear that there is any show that SRO Productions III cannot conquer. The company’s latest offering is Maury Yeston’s epic musical Titanic (book by Peter Stone), the sad and true story of how the desire for power, publicity and money led 1,517 innocent souls to their death on April 15, 1912. Oh, the arrogance and stupidity of man.
In a cast this large it is impossible to mention everyone. Suffice it to say that, while several actors played multiple parts, all acted and sang with gusto, recreating a moment in history that will never be forgotten. Director Scott Fisher delineated the characters very well and kept the pace of action brisk and clean. He was also the music director with a fine ensemble offstage.
The arrogant and misguided Captain E.J. Smith was played with aplomb by Bill Snyder. Connor Kabat was simply delightful to watch and hear as the radioman, Harold Bride. All of Titanic’s first class “elite” passengers were clever to depict their roles with a subtle snobbery and a realization that, in the end, there never was such a thing as the upper class, especially when one is sporting a life jacket and facing imminent death.
Perhaps most interesting to watch unfold in this well-written and dramatically charged musical were the stories of the individual passengers and how well they told of their plight. As Alice and Edgar Beane, two second-class passenger’s, Margaret Smith and Larry Guidici were a sharp contrast in opposites. Mrs. Beane longed to be one of “them’”(the upper class) and slammed her down-to-earth husband for not wanting more. As third-class passenger Kate McGowen and her willing “soon to be” husband, Jim Farrell, Sarah Wallikas and Josh Smith were very effective.
Another pairing that stood out was Charles and Caroline (Joe Hoffmann and Marjorie Loughran), keeping secrets and cherishing dreams that may never come to fruition. As millionaires Ida and Isidor Strauss, Laurie Brearley and Rick Mertens created the true tale of this loving couple who chose not to separate but tragically drown together.
It’s not always fair or comfortable to single out a performer. That being said, Andrew Simek as the ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, Jr., was superb. His passion and sensibility and, sadly, ultimate demise were riveting. In his second-act solo, “Mr. Andrews’ Vision,” Simek not only sings well but his involvement is so intense that he is actually shaking, visibly moved by a monster he had a large part in creating.
The set was simple but very effective with colorful lighting (by Luke Redmore and Scott Fisher) and a scrim screen in the background showing images throughout of the actual Titanic and the gory time frame to the sinking. Wonderful costumes were by Barb Nurse, Peg Swarts and Jan McMahon. Joe Roma did wonders as the technical director.
IF YOU GO: Titanic opened last night (Nov. 16) at the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage, 44 Willow St., Johnson City. Performances continue at 7:30 pm. today and 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 17 and 18) as well as at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23-24 and 2 p.m. Nov. 25. Tickets are $25 ($22 for seniors and students) at www.sroproductionsonline.com, 800-838-3006 or at the door.