Friday, January 14, 2011

In Review: Titanic: The Musical

I went to see Titanic: The Musical tonight at the University of Calgary. I was expecting great things, but instead I encountered a monstrous disaster. I guess great things were also expected by the people on the actual ship and they got screwed so I should have seen this coming.

I must preface the review with this: I don't believe that the failure of this show should be solely placed on the shoulders of the cast. I found out some interesting behind the scenes information during the intermission which made me believe that it is the people behind the scenes that turned this show on its head.

Where do I begin? Well I guess I could start with the fact that the show was 3 hours and 15 minutes long (intermission included). I actually was beginning to think that they had forgot to call it...but then after 2 HOURS the lights came on, and obviously I knew it wasn't over yet because they had just hit the iceberg and no one was dead yet.

At the intermission I learned that I was not being overly critical...I was actually witnessing a sh*t show that, as of 3PM today, didn't have its set completely finished thus the cast had not fully rehearsed Act II. This actually made sense to me as I was very aware that the set, which was giant and white, needed a good 5 or 6 more coats of paint.

At least 30 minutes of the show was spent moving the sets around (no exaggeration)...which clearly they figured out by the second act and at one point stopped moving it all together - much to the relief of the audience who thought they were going to have to sit there for another 2 hours...minus the row in front of me that up and left during the intermission. I am convinced they went home to watch Jersey Shore.

The sound was so horrible I missed 10% of the show, the orchestra flubbed, the singers were pitchy and flat, there was mic feedback, there were way too many story lines that should have been cut (there were about 4 that they could have done without which may have shortened it by an hour), and there were times when I was watching a performance thinking, "They must have been the only one who auditioned for this role."

There were a couple people in the show that I believe, under the dire circumstances, should get some accolades: Caitlin Karpetz as Etches, Brian Unterschultz as Ismay, Mike Johnson as the Captain, and Colton Duane as Harold Bride all did applaudable performances. Jeff Follis as Murdoch was the only person who sang a solo and didn't hit a bum note, which should be recognized. But my favorites were Gregor Schoenberg as Edgar, the dude gave it his all - it was touching; and Emily Bontje as Kate, the show stealer and I'm pretty sure she is Jessi Cruickshank's twin.

All in all it was garbage, but I am sure people will flock to see it because it is the Titanic. That being said, if I had paid to go see that I would have been pissed as I do not feel it is right to charge people to come and see an f-cking dress rehearsal.

Verdict: Can't say...I saw the dress rehearsal and that would hardly be fair.



  1. Friday night was much better, and the two shows on saturday were again better. If you can stomach it, come see it again this week - it would be interesting to know what you thought of the improvements.

    PS - set changes were cut and the show is now 45 min shorter...

  2. I saw it last night and thought it was fantastic. Everyone did an outstanding job, and the set changes, to me, were quick enough. That's a bummer that it didn't live up to your expectations, but if you can, I'd give it another chance. I'm in shock that the same show I saw is the one you described!

  3. I can assure you this was not a good musical production. Not by a long shot.

    Titanic was one of the most expensive musical theatre productions of it's time and continued to have technical difficulties through out it's run on Broadway. So, how can you expect to translate that into an amature production that has a skeleton budget and an inferior director and musical director. You may be able to direct a choir, but musical theatre is another kettle of fish.

    The props in this production are the most important aspect, even the cast is secondary. If you cannot get your audience to feel like they are looking at the grand stair case, the promenade deck, the suspension of disbelief is already starting to fray. A big slab of plywood painted white isn't going to cut it. Neither are props that look like they were made in wood shop 101.

    There are 60 cast members in this monster musical and the story lines are numerous. I was confused at times about who was who, doing what with whom, it was a mess. The story lines should have and could have been handled better and this speaks to me of an inexperienced director biting off more then she can chew.

    The singing is about what you would expect from students with little time to rehearse. This is to bad as there are some really nice musical numbers here, but they didn't stand a chance with this group. There were some o.k. singers in the group, but I couldn't remember who they were or what they sang a few hours later.

    The sets took forever to move around and I understand they cut the show by 45min. It still felt really long. I noticed a lot of people fidgeting in their seats, especially after intermission. Eventually cell phones started coming out of purses and pockets, messages being checked, txt being returned.

    The sinking of the ship was comical, even though it wasn't meant to be. Afterwards, there were no teary eyes or reflective words, we all streamed out of the theatre trying to renew circulation to our back sides. A comment I heard over and over "that was really long". I agree, the hours felt like days.

    It was a ridiculous idea to pick Titanic: The Musical. It would appear we have a matter of to much ego and not enough practical sense. The props looked terrible, the musical direction was un-inspirational, the direction was almost non-existent and the final impression I got was a thrown together at the last minute, really hope it fly's production. It's a shame, Titanic deserves better and so do the audience members.

  4. Amen!! I saw this when it began it's "official" run this week and thought it was a pile of crap. Bad sets, terrible singing, crappy direction. Yikes, a lot of peeps are gonna be embarrassed when this hits you tube.

  5. We worked our asses off in this play, give us all a break the opening night for every play is never going to go perfectly, we all put in hard hours to do this, everyone who I saw come out of the theatre were congradualting us all on how well we did. It was hard to do all of this plus exams the same time of the show. Yes it may be long. if you can't sit still then leave. We all put our heart and soul into this and we are family not just a cast.

  6. Something I find interesting was the standing ovations I heard the show got every night after that dreadful opening. (I was in the audience that night and there's no other word to describe it). I unfortuately was not able to see the show a second time but it must of gotten a hell of a lot better.

  7. Keep in mind that this cast had 3 nights to get used to a Theatre before opening night. That's all. If you haven't been in theatre (which it sounds like the writer hasn't based on the comments made), then you don't realize how much effort and coordination would go into a show of this size. The direction of the play was wonderful from my point of view ( and give the director a lot of credit for making a very key decision to cut out the moving of the set after seeing the show on the first night, since this also changes much of the blocking upon entering the set) and I thought that the quality of the singing was outstanding. I saw the show 4 times and it got better every night. The actors made me feel like I was actually experiencing first hand the events of that fateful night. There wasn't a dry eye in the house most nights. Please realize that when you are coming to see almost any show that is not on Broadway, that you are not there to see the wonderous sets, you are there to watch the magic that the cast brings forth and this show was magic!


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