From fighting dogs to sinking ships. This week’s coffee is had in celebration after a really wonderful start to the rehearsal period of StageArt’s Titanic. I have been very fortunate to be cast as Harold Bride in the Australian premiere of the London Chamber Revival Production of this beautiful show. I have also been very fortunate to be cast alongside the other half of ‘Coffee with…’, Matilda Moran, and you can bet that many imaginary coffees will be shared between us now that she has moved to Melbourne for two months.
(I mentioned in my very first article that I actually hate coffee. Update: I have since had two small coffees in preparation for some of the long Dogfight rehearsal days we had. It still tasted disgusting, but it definitely helped me get through the day. I am now trying to never have another one, in case my addictive personality means I never stop having them.)
It’s such a well-known story: the largest ship of its time, the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York. With not enough lifeboats for all crew and passengers, 1,517 men, women and children lost their lives in one of the most tragic events of the 20th century. While I have no doubt that about 70% of the audiences that see this show around the world arrive expecting to see Jack and Rose, this show depicts the actual historical figures that were aboard this terrible tragedy. It has been so fascinating to discover all the available research out there about this ship and its people, with so many people dedicating their lives to finding out exactly what happened that night. It also really instils a sense of duty in you as an actor to respect the legacy of these real life people, and tell their story as best you can.
While the original Broadway production consisted of a cast of over 40 (including Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Cerveris and Victoria Clarke), this revival version has stripped the cast down to 20; meaning we are all very busy bees playing a lot of roles. With such a minimalistic approach, the focus has really been placed on the actors and the storytelling. If you haven’t seen or heard the show before, let me tell you that it is truly beautiful. When it premiered in 1997, it won five Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and has since been staged all over the world.
Under the direction of the inspirational James Cutler (In the Heights, Parade), the cast includes a really talented and lovely group of people, including a few of my university classmates that I am really lucky to work with again. Rehearsals so far have included us getting our heads around this beautiful but quite challenging score. (Although it has been quite nice to use vibrato again after singing Pasek and Paul for so long!) One day also saw us stage the entire opening sequence (aka. 17 pages involving almost every single character), as well as one-on-one rehearsals that have really allowed us to delve into our individual scenes and songs. I can already tell that the cast are going to ‘blow it out of the water.’
(… I apologise in advance for how many lame ship puns are probably going to remain in my column for the next few months …)
Playing at Chapel off Chapel from July 7-24, tickets are available now from $49 at http://bit.ly/BookTitanic