5th Avenue Theatre presents 'Titanic' (the musical) on 100th anniversary of sinking

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Executive producer and artistic director David Armstrong, at the 5th Avenue Theatre, realized that the 100th anniversary was coming up of the sinking of the Titanic and decided he wanted to do something big: put on a concert-style production of the musical, Titanic. Opened on Broadway in 1997, and winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the musical was a sweeping spectacle that included more than two dozen actors, and a sinking of the boat on stage.

Armstrong says, “It’s hardly ever done because it’s so big. Putting the Titanic on stage and making it sink was a huge challenge and even in the original Broadway production, some thought they were successful and some didn’t think they physically did it well.”

Armstrong decided that he could arrange a concert version, without the requirements to create a massive set, or costumes, but allowing him to add a 70 voice choir (the Pacific Lutheran University Choral Choir) and to put the 25 member orchestra on stage with the actors. It’s coming up April 13-15 at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101). Tickets (starting at $19.00) may be purchased in person, online or by phone at 206-625-1900. Times include: Friday 8pm, Saturday 2pm and 8pm, Sunday 1:30pm.

In fact, April 15th is the actual day, 100 years earlier, that the Titanic sank. The Titanic sinking has gripped the American imagination since it sank. Armstrong thinks part of the allure is the sheer disaster, enveloping so many people, and also that it was a tragedy with class implications. “It has to do with the version of society pre-WWI on the verge of tremendous change and the world would never be the same again. The ship had First Class to Third Class.

“All the First Class men died, most of the women and children in First Class made it into the life boats. Most of those who died were in Second and Third Class. In the musical, there is the story of the Strauses, owners of Macy’s. The wife gets out of the life boat and goes back to her husband because she doesn’t want to leave him.”

The musical is not at all like the movie made at the similar time. There are several handfuls of stories, and we get to know people like the captain, the ship’s architect and the ship’s owner. Another unique aspect is that the words you’ll hear are based on true stories. Armstrong says, “To have these characters onstage saying these words 100 years after the event will be very powerful and very moving. Having a lot of people on stage, we hope it will feel like you’re seeing many of the people on board.”

The cast includes some of the favorite talents you’ve seen on stage at the 5th for many years, and some of the talented newcomers you might just be getting to know from their most recent shows, Oklahoma and Cinderella. Ed Watts, Stanley Bahorek, Greg Stone, Anne Allgood, Ryah Nixon, Allen Fitzpatrick, Timothy Piggee, David Pichette, Jeff Steitzer, and Carol Swarbrick will be the featured characters.

The rest of the cast is filled out with Andi Alhadeff, Jared Michael Brown, Molly Davidson, Bob De Dea, Kirsten deLohr Helland, Nick DeSantis, Jim Dries, Mary Jo DuGaw, Anne Eisendrath, Sean Glynn, Hugh Hastings, Eric Jensen, Corinna Lapid Munter, Lindsey Larson, Matthew Lewis, Sonya Meyer, Cheryl Massey Peters, Robert McPherson, Matt Owen, Lindsay Powers, David Quicksall, Heath Saunders, Aaron Shanks, and Jenny Shotwell. Maybe they are familiar to you from shows all over the area, including Village Theatre, ArtsWest, Book-It Repertory, SecondStory Repertory, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Seattle Musical Theatre, Seattle Repertory, ACT Theatre, and more.

Armstrong loves the score, in particular (by Maury Yeston, with book by Peter Stone). “I’ve loved this musical and directed it before. The sound will be thrilling. Our partner is the PLU choir and they’re spectacular.”

This certainly sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

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