Titanic! the Musical by Cardinal O’ Hara High School in Springfield, PA
November 28, 2017
Review submitted by Anna Bobok of Upper Merion Area High School
Titanic! The Musical at Cardinal O’Hara High School had audiences “Doing the Latest Rag” from the first note to the close of the curtains!
On April 10th, 1912, thousands crowded on board the R.M.S. Titanic, the largest water vessel of its time and a supposedly unsinkable ship. By April 15th, the ship was completely underwater and less than half of its passengers and crew had escaped on lifeboats. The shipwreck was discovered in 1985, inspiring lyricist Maury Yeston and book writer Peter Stone to collaborate on a musical detailing the disaster and the real people it impacted. The musical won several Tony Awards in 1997, including Best Original Score, Best Book, and Best Musical.
Dylan Rooney (Thomas Andrews), Jack Williamson (J. Bruce Ismay), and Brian McAnulla (Captain E. J. Smith) played well off each other’s energy, which was especially evident in “The Blame”. The actors utilized this song to raise the stakes of the show through their strong portrayals of tension and anger that engaged the audience fully. Rooney was a particular standout of the trio with his songs “In Every Age” and “Mr. Andrew’s Vision” showcasing his soaring vocals.
Grace Grassi (Kate McGowan) played her character expertly with an authentic Irish accent. Her voice was especially strong in the number “Lady’s Maid”, where she managed to command the stage amidst a large ensemble. Kevin Bonnell (Frederick Barrett) portrayed his lovesick role with heart and charm, evident in his songs “Barrett’s Song” and “The Proposal”. Katie Till (Ida Straus) showed off her powerful pipes in “Still”, a beautiful song where she blended well and created good chemistry with Gavin Lewis (Isidor Straus).
Kristina Goldhorn and Brennen Frame (Alice and Edgar Beane, respectively) added elements of humor and fun to the show, which really helped brighten the bleak tale. Frame’s dry one liners countered Goldhorn’s eccentric portrayal extremely well, and laughter was heard every time the pair was on stage. Connell O’Brien (Henry Etches) had an infectious energy throughout the whole show that was especially showcased with the number “What a Remarkable Age This Is”.
The show’s marketing team made good use of technology with their impressive time-lapse video of the set building process and interviews with the cast. Their creativity was showcased with their handmade Titanic bow outside the auditorium. Audience members and critics alike utilized this for photo opportunities and it made the overall theater experience a lot more fun and inclusive.
Cardinal O’Hara’s actors and actresses gave a stellar production of Titanic! that was far from a shipwreck!
Review submitted by June Sanchez of Upper Merion Area High School
The legend of the Titanic is one known to the masses. For over a century, the story of a glamorous, impressive ship doomed from the start has intrigued and inspired numerous creative works. Cardinal O’Hara High School’s rendition of Titanic! The Musical delves further into the tragic historical narrative, introducing the audience to the passengers of the Titanic themselves.
A tale of what became of the world who set sail, Titanic tells the infamous story of the seemingly unsinkable luxury liner shipwrecked on its maiden voyage. But before thousands met their bitter demise, they had hopes, dreams, and their own story to tell. Titanic details the lives and deaths of those aboard the “ship of dreams” while highlighting themes of class struggles, the ever-expanding technological pursuits of the human race, and the problems posed by excessive pride. The show received immense critical acclaim upon its 1997 Broadway release, winning Tony awards for “Best Musical”, “Best Book”, and “Best Score.”
Cardinal O’Hara’s cast tackled an ambitious and involved production with immense energy and enthusiasm. Although the cast occasionally struggled to find their harmonies during group numbers, they compensated through a few standout vocalists and excellent comedic timing throughout.
Dylan Rooney (Thomas Andrews) expertly encapsulated the internal struggle of the ship’s designer and builder grappling with the reality of his failures. His standout vocals and heart wrenching epiphany in the Titanic’s final moments during “Mr. Andrew’s Vision” reflected the cruel and tragic fate of a ship that just hours before was his source of immense pride. Grace Grassi (Kate McGowan) created an authentic character through her melodic vocals and hopeful imagination of what her life would be like in America.
Kristina Goldhorn (Alice Beane) and Brennan Frame’s (Edgar Beane) charming portrayal of a couple, who couldn’t see eye to eye on their fellow passengers, lent several moments of lighthearted comic relief to the production. Brian McAnulla (Captain E.J. Smith) and Jack Williamson (J. Bruce Ismay) effectively conveyed the conflict of their prideful and power-hungry characters as they argued over who really was in charge of the Titanic. Additionally, Katie Till (Ida Straus) and Gavin Lewis’s (Isidor Straus) bittersweet rendition of “Still” during their final moments reflected the genuine chemistry between the actors.
Beyond the stage, the Titanic Marketing Team extended the ambience of the show throughout the school. Their creation of an impressive lobby display featuring a gigantic ship balcony provided an ideal photo opportunity for audience members.
Cardinal O’Hara High School’s cast and crew brought the legendary tale of a doomed “floating city” to the stage through their production of Titanic! the Musical.