Is there such a thing as too much theater? No? Good! I agree. There's good theater. There's bad theater. There's even mediocre, boring, sad, possibly pointless theater. And there's excellent theater. Theater that just thrills you every step along the way. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Before the show my longtime friend, Laura, and I stopped into Busboys & Poets across from Signature Theater and had a lovely dinner. Mediterranean Pasta with Shrimp for me, thank you. I rarely finish a pasta dish, but this one was so delicious and well proportioned that I happily ate it all and left feeling satisfied and not saturated! Great little DC restaurant chain. And then on to the main event: "Titanic"!When entering the theater you are greeted by a Lego model of the Titanic...like I stood a chance in hell of not loving this show!
What an excellent evening! The staging was stunning and so well used in the execution of the production that it was almost another character in the story. While presented in the round, our seats felt like front and center to the action. All but one of the numbers seemed choreographed in our direction, and I wondered if those sitting along the other cardinal points felt the same way--I truly hope so.
The sound and sound effects were also exceptional. When the ship hit the iceberg at the end of the first half, it was so intense and unexpected that everyone in the place involuntarily jumped in unison! Talk about your communal experience! Not a slacker voice in the company either, and yet some really shone. Among the men Sam Ludwig as Frederick Barrett, Bobby Smith as Thomas Andrews, and Nick Lehan in multiple roles stood out for the emotional intensity of their interpretations. Equally, Iyona Blake as Caroline Neville/Mrs. Thayer hit such notes of excellence, that the audience paused in honor before erupting in applause! In the same way, Tracy Lynn Olivera as Alice Beane and Erin Driscoll as Kate Murphy captured the imagination of the audience whenever they commanded the stage. This ensemble is hellbent for a Helen Hayes nomination. Numbers like "Lady's Maid" and "The Blame" were so inspiring and intense in kind that my eyes pretty much ran a steady stream of approving tears. I just tend to leak when I let go and become a part of something so wonderful as this production. But the most powerful moments were saved for the end. And here's were the director's conceptual eye demands acknowledgement.
As Bobby Smith sang "Mr. Andrew's Vision" in his character's final desperate attempt to redeem the horror around him, from the nether regions of the theater's upper climes debris of suit cases and boxes and pieces of chairs slowly decended and dangled all around him until suddenly, without any warning some of the actors dove from above suspended in and among the debris. At first, they appeared to be "swimming" and then floating lifelessly. It was so fucking intense. I nearly felt like I could have reached out and touched the floating body of the bellboy Edward... I had no hesitation about standing at the end in ovation.
|Sam Ludwig with shovel singing "Barrett's Song" from the boiler room|
|John Leslie Wolfe and Florence Lacey as Isidor and Ida Strauss founders of Macy's Department Stores|
|The cast in "What A Remarkable Age This Is"|
|The cast in "Lady's Maid"|
|Kevin McAllister as First Officer William Murdoch and Matt Conner as Second Officer Charles Lightoller--Ice Berg Dead Ahead!|
|Christopher Bloch as Captain E. J. Smith, Nicholas Lehan as Harold Bride telegrapher, Lawrence Redmond as J. Bruce Ismay, and Bobby Smith as Thomas Andrews--calling out for help, but none is nearby...|
|The Strauss' performing "Still" having decided to die together.|