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07May

Titanic, Oakton High School, Vienna, Virginia, May 4, 2018

Anna Krelovich

Westfield High School

 

A man parades on stage holding blueprints for a "floating metropolis," boasting it is the "perfection of physical engineering;" however, only the audience knows the truth of what tragedy is yet to come for this ill-famed steamer in Oakton High School's production of Titanic.

 

Opening in 1997, Titanic features a book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The musical won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score, and ran for nearly two years before closing in 1999. Set on the infamous RMS Titanic, which sank on its 1912 maiden voyage, Titanic tells the stories of those on board the "unsinkable" steamer.

 

As Thomas Andrews, the designer and builder of the ship, Parker Waters was strong-willed and full of integrity. Waters' recognition of his faults in the construction of the steamer was harrowing, ending in the gut-wrenching "Mr. Andrews' Vision," all while showcasing an astounding tenor. The caring, serious captain of the boat, E.J. Smith, was played by Diego Maldonado, whose fatherly presence commanded attention. Constantly edging him on was Liam Klopfenstein as owner of the Titanic, J. Bruce Ismay. Klopfenstein misguidedly insisted on constantly increasing the speed of the steamer, concerned only about the reputation of the boat. The three were haunted by the thought of causing the accident, culminating in the hectic "The Blame."

 

Scruffy stoker Barrett, played by Maxwell Branciforte, displayed incredible vocal talent, expressing concern for the speed of the steamer in "Barrett's Song." His adorable proposal to his girlfriend via telegram showed his vulnerability, while his giving up a seat on a lifeboat showed his strength and sympathy. Lindsey Jacobson was the classy Caroline Neville, running away to America to elope with the ambitious Charles Clark (Jonathan Geerdes.) Jacobson's beautiful soprano stunned in the adorable duet "I Give You My Hand" and the heartbreaking goodbye "We'll Meet Tomorrow." Third class passengers "The Three Kates" (Shiva Zarean, Cassie Wiltse, Carolyn Best) were hopeful of a greater life as they boarded the prestigious steamer, each musing on their dreams of America in the upbeat "Lady's Maid." The entire ensemble touted stunningly operatic voices, dazzling in the harmonious "Godspeed Titanic."

 

Simple white fencing was able to move around the stage to create different places on the deck of the Titanic, while a gold chandelier distinguished first class from third. The orchestra's talent could not be surpassed, almost constantly playing with impressive professionalism. A student-run fly system created the gorgeous yet heartbreaking image of passengers drowning, with five travelers floating limp next to disregarded portraits and abandoned dolls.

 

It would seem as though a musical about one of the world's most tragic stories would be destined to be a failure, but with remarkable vocalists and heart-wrenching dramatic actors, Oakton High School's production of Titanic is anything but.


Diana Witt

Westfield High School

 

Wide eyes marvel at a magnificent ship unlike any of its kind, and crowds of all classes flock for the opportunity to embark on the maiden voyage. All aboard to see Oakton High School's production of Titanic! With poignant emotional moments, impressive vocal talent, and stunning technical aspects, Oakton's rich retelling of the historical event was truly "a chance for once in a lifetime."

 

Inspired by the true events of the 1912 sunken ship, Titanic is a musical by Peter Stone, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The Broadway production opened in 1997 and garnered five Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical. Called "unsinkable," the Titanic was a spectacular steamship, stronger, faster, and grander than any other ships of the early 1900s. People from all walks of life gathered to delight in the splendor of the ship and voyage to America. When tragedy struck, the passengers and boat staff scrambled to save the lives that they once knew. Titanic offers diverse perspectives to the devastating event, while revealing the universality of humanity.

 

The entire cast adopted clear and divergent personas, while working together as a cohesive ensemble. Clearly defining class lines, the ensemble displayed remarkable commitment to their roles. With seamless harmonies and beautifully blending voices, the cast exhibited vocal prowess in melodic musical numbers.

 

Parker Waters portrayed the Titanic's designer and builder, Thomas Andrews. Truly a pioneer of his time, Waters emanated pride as the successful innovator. His celebration of accomplishments quickly faded as the impending danger approached, and he developed pangs of guilt. Waters showcased a bold belting voice in his touching showstopper "Mr. Andrew's Vision." As the stoker, Frederick Barrett, Maxwell Branciforte expressed a longing for a better life outside the grim, dirty boiler room. Having left his fiancée behind on land, he tenderly revealed the heartache of separation at sea.

 

As newly engaged lovers Charles and Caroline, Jonathan Geerdes and Lindsey Jacobson developed a believable and adorable relationship aboard the Titanic. The duo excellently conveyed the anguish of lost love, as Caroline tearfully flees to the lifeboats. Jacobson boasted a gorgeous soprano voice in many standout solos. Shiva Zarean embodied pregnant third-class passenger, Kate McGowan. Dreaming of a joyful future for her baby, she brightened her predicament with her aspiring spirit. Along with Kate Mullins (Cassie Wiltse) and Kate Murphey (Carolyn Best), the destitute women radiated hope in their inspiring number "Lady's Maid."

 

Brilliant technical effects invited the audience to experience the nautical journey aboard the steamer. The set design by Diego Maldonado, JD Mayer, Jack Griggs, and Simon Todd perfectly captured the grandeur of the massive ship. A variety of set pieces distinguished each of the class decks, from the ornate staircase of the first-class saloon to the simple and plain pieces of the third-class deck. The stage crew deftly swept the heavy set pieces off the stage in swift transitions. The special effects team (JD Mayer, Jack Griggs, Diego Maldonado) implemented a fly system, adding a jaw-dropping element to chilling scenes. As the water overtook the ship, the passengers floated against a striking blue cyclorama, ebbing and flowing with the ocean waves.

 

As the survivors are rescued by a passing ship, they remember the vibrant history of those whose lives were lost. Oakton High School honored the history of the luxurious steamer in their unsinkable production of Titanic.

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