Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Genesius delivers a powerful, memorable ‘Titanic: The Musical'

From left, Michael Corcoran, Madeline Corcoran, Kira Apple and Katie Ott.
By Cheryl Thornburg

Genesius Theatre has delivered yet another spectacular concert performance with ‘Titanic: The Musical” this past weekend at Alvernia University. The production featured a huge cast with numerous songs that gave many of the cast members an opportunity to shine on their own.

Thankfully, the story line is not the same as the dreadfully long movie (I kept praying for the ship to sink so the movie would be over).  The musical’s script is much more interesting with more three–dimensional characters — even in concert mode. Perhaps it is because they are based on real people.

The focus is on not only the first, second and third class passengers, but also on the crew and ship’s owner and the decisions that lead to the fatal disaster 100 years ago.  The music reflects the pride and enthusiasm as the ship sets sail, the gaiety of the first part of the voyage and ultimately the chaos, anger and despair as everyone realizes that many of them are doomed.

The cast includes some of the best voices in the Berks County area and together they deliver powerful and memorable numbers from the uplifting “Godspeed Titanic” in the first act to “We’ll Meet Tomorrow” and “In Every Age” in the second.
There are also many standout individual performances, perhaps too many to mention here, but here are some of my favorites.   

As Frederick Barrett, the ship’s stoker,  Jason Denlinger delivers some memorable songs from “How Did They Build Titanic” to “Barrett’s Song” and the tender ballad “The Proposal” which is so well suited to his clear tenor.

Kirk Cremer demonstrates his acting skills as Capt. E.J. Smith, the over-confident captain who plans to retire after this voyage.  He also shows off his vocal talents in one of my favorite numbers, “The Blame,” with Greg Harwell as J. Bruce Ismay, the ship’s owner and Peter Bourey as Thomas Andrews who designed the RMS Titanic.
Harwell is perfectly obnoxious as Ismay, who keeps pushing the captain to go faster so he can brag about a 6-day crossing. He’s the one you love to hate in this show.
Bourey’s clear tenor sets the tone for the show with the opening “In Every Age,”  and helps wrap it it up with “Mr. Andrews’ Vision,” in the final act.

Jonathan Browning’s voice will be familiar to regular area theater-goers. Here he plays Murdoch, the ship’s second-in-command, and delivers the powerful
“To be A Captain.”

Now that I’ve covered many of the crew and Titanic power players, let’s get to the passengers

Kira Apple is unforgettable as the irrepressible, star-struck Alice Beane, who wants nothing more than to hobnob with the wealthy first-class passengers. Whether singing  “The First Class Roster,” with Bob Aregood as Herbert Pittman, the ship’s 3rd officer, or bantering with her caring, but pragmatic husband, Edgar, Apple is just plain fun to watch.
Dallas Mugno plays Edgar Beane with just the right subtlety to offset his wife’s exuberance and impulsiveness. Though they play second-class passengers, there’s nothing second class about their ballad “I Have Danced.”

Matching Apple in charisma on stage is Katie Ott as the outgoing and enthusiastic Kate McGowan, a third-class passenger who plans to make it big when she gets to America.  She shines in “Ladies Maid” with Heather Troxell and Erin K. Aregood as the other Kates (lots of the 3rd-class female characters are named Kate).
The Kates along with Bo Irwin as Jim Farrell also stand out in “The Staircase” as they frantically try to reach the upper decks.

Other memorable performances come from Christopher Sperat as Harold Bride, the ship’s radioman, in “The Night Was Alive;” Benjamin Long as Fredeick Fleet, the lookout, in the haunting “No Moon” and Brandon Kegerize as Wallace Hartley, the orchestra leader, in the upbeat “Doing the Latest Rag.”
Daniel Hafer uses his exquisite tenor throughout the show as Henry Etches, the first class steward. He is featured in “What a Remarkable Age This Is” in the first act and  the frantic ‘Wake Up, Wake Up,” in the second.

Michael and Madeline Corcoran deliver a touching duet, “Still” as Isidor and Ida Straus, the wealthy owners of Macy’s, who perish together when the ship goes down.

Other members of this talented cast include Amy Bourey, Ryan Katzenmoyer, Caleb Seip, Ken Cowan, James Barksdale, Kyle Feltenberger, Julia Elberfield, Colin Presby Christina Ferlazzo, Patrick Grinnage, Kaiya Lyons, Robert J. Harwell, Pat Malarkey, Elizabeth Frederick, Marjory Ewald, Pat Rehr, Alexander Bannon, Erin Brubaker, Wendy Caldwell, Regina Weaver and Kate Cremer.

The concert is directed by Christopher Sperat and music directed by Peter Bourey.
David A. McConnell directed the 18-piece orchestra.
An added bonus for this show were the hors d’oeuvres, plus the cakes provided by Sweet Street Desserts, a yearlong sponsor of Genesius.

Unfortunately, the concert performances run only one weekend, so there’s no chance to see this amazing production this time around, but there’s more great theater in store.
Next up for Genesius is Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution” Sept. 28 through Oct. 7 at the theater at 10th and Walnuts streets in Reading. For information contact the theater at 610-371-8151 or visit the website at genesiustheatre.org.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael and Madeline are a mesmerizing couple! Absolutely made for each other, and a pleasure to behold.

December 4, 2012 at 1:51 PM 

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