Like James Cameron’s “Titanic” movie, which opened eight months afterward, Peter Stone and Maury Yeston’s Titanic the Musical relies on artificial drama – until the legendarily doomed ship hits that iceberg (the real star of the show). But the Broadway musical, which runs through Sept. 3 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre, is a far more durable telling of the 1912 tale. Larry Raben directs a sprawling cast of 37, all of them in authentic period costumes and accompanied in song by a 26-piece orchestra. This is a titanic production, and though the ship and its sinking are conveyed using screen projections and modest set pieces, you will feel as if you are on board. That in itself may be the most significant accomplishment of this show, which originally won the Tony for Best Musical.
The cast is so large that making a personal connection with any of the characters is dicey, but definite standouts include Bets Malone as a lovable social climber, Robert J. Townsend as the principled ship builder, Eric Michael Parker as the Titanic’s radio operator, and Norman Large as stalwart Captain E.J. Smith. No Jack? No Rose? No problem. Yeston’s songs are primarily expository in Act 1, but gain poignancy in Act 2 when for most aboard, all is lost.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat