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A CurtainUp Review

Not even God could sink the Titanic.— J. Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line
The cast
Sometimes less is more. An attempt to capture the scope and tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic would prove daunting on any stage. The Broadway producers of the 1997 Tony Award-winning musical were given "A" for their challenging effort, even if it remained for a later film version to satisfy audiences' appetites for visual spectacle.

The Tony winner did boast a literate, if conventional, book by Peter Stone, but was truly memorable for the strong score by Maury Yeston. The demanding size of the Broadway show, however, seemed to doom productions elsewhere.

Enter Don Stephenson, an actor who was in the original cast. He reasoned that the heart of the story was a personal one, so why not re-conceive the show on a more intimate scale. Working with composer Yeston, Kevin Stites (original musical director of the Broadway show) choreographer Lisa Genaro and musical director Ian Weinberger, Stephenson oversaw the re-scoring of the music for a smaller orchestra and a reduction of the cast from 40 to 20. After tryouts in upstate New York and a well-received production in London, this new, leaner, but engaging musical has opened at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, New York.

The reworking does not diminish the impact of the storyP. rojections imaginatively suggesting the giant ship and the fateful iceberg it encounters.

The score, strongly sung here by a talented ensemble of 20 performers who double and sometime triple the roles they play, carries the day. Perhaps only an opera could rise to the level of this massive tragedy, but Yeston's music and lyrics go a long way in capturing the many personal dramas as well as the sweep and spirit of this nautical adventure.

Strong performances were delivered by Tom Hewitt as Thomas Andrews who designed the ship, Adam Heller as J. Bruce Ismay, the Chairman of the White Star Line, William Parry as Captain Edward J. Smith and Jonathan Brody and Will Boyajian as his deck officers. Xander Chauncey was a knockout as Frederick Barrtett, a stoker dreaming about the future, and David Studwell and Kay Walbye as Isidor Strauss, a leading New York City store owner, and his wife, Ida, evoked pathos as an older couple who choose to die together.

Lisa Genaro's choreography is limited to a few dances — one in the upper class salon and a few jigs down below. But its clear her talent was behind many of the stage pictures.

The actual sinking is registered by the clever use of row after row of photographs of actual victims receding into the distance. The many apt period costumes help establish the era, and Stephenson's direction. Coupled with the sensitive musical leadership of Ian Weinberger this is a most satisfying productions.
Titanic Story and book by Peter Stone Music and lyrics by Maury Yeston Directed by Don Stephenson Cast: (ensemble) Will Boyajian, Xander Chauncey, Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone, Tom Hewitt, Ben McHugh, Christian Palmer, Celeste Rose, Jonathan Brody, Donna English, Elizabeth Hake, Philip Hoffman, Drew McVety, William Parry, David Studwell, Sarah Charles, Ben Estus, Adam Heller, John Langley, Patricia Noonan, Noah Plomgren, Kay Walbye. Set design: Patrick Rizzotti Costume design: Derek Lockwood, Ryan Moller Lighting design: Andrew Gmoser Projections design: Howard Werner Sound design: Jonathan Hatton, Mark Zuckerman Technical director: Steve Loftus Musical direction by Ian Weinberger Choreographed by Liza Genaro. Through February 23, 2014 Westchester Broadway Theatre, One Broadway Plaza, Elmsford, New York (Exit 23 off the Saw Mill River Parkway) Performances: Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., dinner served from 6:30. Sundays at 7 p.m. dinner from 5:30. Matinees: Thursdays at 1 p.m., lunch served from ll:30 a.m.; and Sundays at 1:30 p.m., lunch from 12 noon. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with a 30-minute intermission. Tickets range from $54 to $80, and include show and meal. Beverages, taxes and gratuities are extra. Call the box office at (914) 592-9222, or purchase online at
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