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REVIEW: Titanic the Musical, presented by Orpheus Theatre

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Published on Jun 7, 2012

What did you think? Did you find yourself humming any of the tunes from the show? Was the historicalness of it enough for you? Tell us in the comments below or on our website: http://productionottawa.com - where you'll find a ton of other local coverage.

Titanic the Musical runs at Centrepointe Theatre until June 10th. Details including how to buy tickets online at http://centrepointe.ca or http://orpheus-theatre.ca

For lovers of the written word, here's the 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.

That said, if you're big on the history of the thing, or a Titanic buff, or just hella curious, Titanic runs for one more week, until June 10th. Details below.

TAGS: RMS Titanic, Broadway, Orpheus Theatre, Ottawa, Theatre, Review, Musical, James Cameron, Michael McSheffrey, Justin Hills, Sascha Wiessmeter, Production Ottawa

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