photo/Nathan Wright
photo/Nathan Wright

 

I

t’s the beginning of the semester. Signups for auditions go up in the Davis-Merrick lobby. The task ahead seems daunting, but just 12 weeks later a show appears! “Titanic,” directed by theatre professor Chrissy Calkins-Steele, sailed into Cox Auditorium, Literally.

Nov. 14-16: Lights. Camera. Action. Minus the camera, you’re thinking. Actually, no. There was a camera filming conductor Dr. Marie Jureit-Beamish the entire time. Just one of the “different” aspects of the show.

The epic set combined with the placement of the orchestra in the back of the stage rather than in the pit created a very exciting atmosphere and setting for the show. The cast worked countless hours to make the show come to life, rehearsing not only on the weekdays but on Saturdays as well. A few participants share their experiences:

Junior Lena Howe played flute in the orchestra. “I’ve played in pits before, but this one had music that was just so beautiful. This was one of the most memorable pits I’ve played in. Since the orchestra was in the back, I felt like we were more a part of the show because we were right there. It was the first time I’ve ever been able to see the behind-the-scenes action; I felt like I was aboard the ship as well.”

Sophomore Chelsea Michel, who played Madame Aubert, noted, “It took an immense amount of dedication and focus, and of course that wasn’t always easy. However, that’s what helped us advance into the final product and do our best. The show escalated into something incredibly moving and beautiful, and became more than I would have ever imagined. I’m grateful to have been part of that amazing process.”

Junior Shamus Jarvis, who played Herbert Pitman, made his theatrical debut senior year of high school in “The Music Man” and hasn’t been able to get enough since then. His favorite song from the show was “The Blame,” remarking,  “The song is incredibly powerful, and I would be enthralled by the music each night. All three actors [Ismay, Andrews and Captain Smith] did a wonderful job with that scene.”

Jarvis admitted, “I don’t think anyone knew what to expect regarding the end result. There was a nagging sense of uncertainty that persisted throughout the production process, but I am quite satisfied with what we presented to the audience. Even after our first performance we were still identifying changes that we believed would strengthen the show and we did our best to implement those changes in subsequent performances.” He concluded by sharing, “I don’t believe that theatre is at all suited to expectation. The nature of theatre demands surprise.”

Freshman Olivia Adams also played a role in Titanic, backstage helping with hair and makeup. “It was really great working backstage with everyone because I still got to be part of the show even though I wasn’t on stage with the actors. It was really great getting to know everyone: they put on a great show!”

Sophomore Kelsey Whitney, who played Caroline Neville, remarked, “The amazing people I got to work with, learning beautiful music, and spending 12 weeks preparing this gift for the community was an incredible experience that I would not take back for anything. I would do it ten more times if I could.”

Senior Anneke Reed, a theater major and music minor who played Kate McGowen, wanted to be a part of Titanic because she “look[s] forward to doing musicals more than anything else.” She said, “I am so happy the show came together by the time we had an audience. To be honest, I had my doubts about whether we would be ready or not. It was a very ambitious show for such a small school, but we made it work and gave the audience a real gift with our shows.”

All in all, Titanic was a complete success with participants and viewers alike both in awe at the end result. Enjoy these shots from Titanic and look for more information on next semester’s play “Hush: An Interview with America” directed by John O’Hagan.

Image courtesy of Julia Suber