Chicago Culture Vulture

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Titanic // Griffin Theatre Company

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SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED

 You can’t say Titanic these days without hearing echoes of “I’m king of the world!” James Cameron’s towering 1997 film has in a way, become the definitive telling of everone’s favorite maritime distaster. A mere months before the Titanic-phenomenon swept the world, a musical by the same title opened on Broadway. Despite mixed to negative reviews, ‘Titanic: a new musical’ went on to win the Tony for best new musical. Even on the heels Titanic’s popularity, the musical closed after only 800 performances.

Written by famed musical theatre artist Maury Yeston, “Titanic: a new musical” tells the story of several characters whose lives intersect aboard the ill-fated ocean liner. A scaled-back, chamber music version of the show was produced off-West End in 2012 by Don Stephenson. This is the first US remount of the newly worked script and orchestrations. This production has twenty cast members playing 45 roles. At times, this device made characters seem indistinguishable.

Scaled-back means somewhat minimal in staging and set design. Rather, the music became the focal point of this production by Griffin Theatre Company at Theatre Wit. Under the direction of Scott Weinstein, “Titanic” is competent but a bit underwhelming in its presentation. The problem with this reconceptulization of Maury Yeston’s musical is that the characters are too adundant to focus in on anyone particular and at times the music tends to blend together. This is a musical about the Titanic, an epic disaster, and without much of a sinking ship to rubber-neck at, it was hard to see what all the fuss was about.

The cast is undoubtedly talented, and shine in ensemble numbers. The nature of the book unfortunately doesn’t help create many stand-out performances. If you’re been dying to see this musical on its feet again, it’s surely Griffin Theatre’s version of the 2012 rewrite. It attempts to mine the original script (a product of 990s-era over-blown musical theatre) for the depth while stripping away the tacky trimmings of the Broadway production. (John J Accrocco)

Through Dec 7th. Grifin Theatre at Theatre Wit – 1229 W Belmont Ave

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2014 by in Theatre Review.
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