The Titanic may have sunk well over a century ago but like the Celine Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On,” its story demands to go on. Producers announced Thursday morning that a musical version of the doomed virgin voyage will be sailing back on to the Broadway stage by fall 2014, following a tune-up in Toronto over the summer. This will be the second time the story of the Titanic has been told on the Broadway stage.
The original musical featured an award-winning score by Maury Yeston (Nine, Grand Hotel) and a book by Peter Stone (1776, Woman of the Year), and became a smash hit of the season despite early rumors that it would be a costly failure. Following the release of James Cameron’s film of the same name in December 1997, worldwide interest would help fuel the musical to nearly double its attendance at the beginning of the new year. The show went on to a two-year stint on Broadway, with over 800 performances between April 1997 and March 1999.
After its initial run, there was a small U.S. tour followed by international productions set up in the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, Wales, Ireland, Belgium and Norway. The original run was directed by Richard Jones with choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, and had a cast led by Michael Cerveris, Brian d’Arcy James and Victoria Clark. The play took home five Tony Awards back in 1997, including the prize for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical. The Titanic musical is preparing to set sail back to the stage.
The Titanic musical tells the story of the star-crossed ship’s maiden voyage and eventual collision with an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic in April 1912. Similar to the blockbuster film, Titanic the musical focuses its conflict upon the passengers in first, second and steerage classes as well as the crew aboard the ill-fated ship. However, unlike the film, the musical does not revolve around a fictionalized Romeo and Juliet-type relationship but instead, tells the stories of some of the people who were actually aboard the Titanic (a ship weighing 70,000 tons and mistakenly believed to be “unsinkable”) when it sank on its way to Southampton from New York, killing nearly 1,500 people. The musical focuses primarily upon the differences and similarities between these passengers as part of a much larger ensemble piece, with each class getting its own protagonist and tale. Whether this new revival of the musical will follow the same book as the original is unknown. But given the remarkable success of the the original, it is highly probable that it will.
The revival is set to be directed by Thom Southerland, who won best director in 2011 at the Off West End Awards for “Me And Juliet.” Southerland previously helmed an acclaimed revival of Titanic at London’s Southwark Playhouse in 2013. The rest of the creative and casting is to be announced at a later time. The Titanic musical is preparing to set sail for engagements lasting six weeks in Toronto at the Royal Alexandra Theatre before they open on Broadway this September.
By Benjamin Murray