Titanic (musical)

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Titanic musical Broadway poster.jpg
Poster for the 1997 Broadway production
MusicMaury Yeston
LyricsMaury Yeston
BookPeter Stone
PremiereApril 23, 1997 (1997-04-23): Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
Productions1997 Broadway
1999 US tour
2018 UK tour
AwardsTony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Book
Tony Award for Best Scenic Design
Tony Award for Best Orchestrations

Titanic is a musical with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Peter Stone. It is based on the story of the RMS Titanic which sank on its maiden voyage on April 15, 1912.

The musical opened on Broadway on April 23, 1997, in a production directed by Richard Jones; it won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for 804 performances.

By coincidence, the musical opened the same year as James Cameron's epic film adaptation of the story, Titanic.


In 1985, the wreckage of the RMS Titanic was discovered about 370 miles (600 km) south-southeast off the coast of Newfoundland, at a depth of about 12,500 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. This attracted the interest of Maury Yeston, a musical theater composer and lyricist best known for the 1982 Broadway musical Nine. Said Yeston:

"What drew me to [a musical about the story of the Titanic] was the positive aspects of what the ship represented – 1) humankind's striving after great artistic works and similar technological feats, despite the possibility of tragic failure, and 2) the dreams of the passengers on board: 3rd Class, to immigrate to America for a better life; 2nd Class, to live a leisured lifestyle in imitation of the upper classes; 1st Class, to maintain their privileged positions forever. The collision with the iceberg dashed all of these dreams simultaneously, and the subsequent transformation of character of the passengers and crew had, it seemed to me, the potential for great emotional and musical expression onstage."[1]

Both Yeston and Peter Stone, the show's librettist, knew the idea was an unusual one for a musical: as Yeston explained, "I think if you don't have that kind of daring damn-the-torpedoes, you shouldn't be in this business. It's the safe sounding shows that often don't do well. You have to dare greatly, and I really want to stretch the bounds of the kind of expression in musical theater."[2]

Yeston saw the story as unique to turn-of-the-century British culture, with its rigid social class system and romanticizing of progress through technology. "In order to depict that on the stage, because this is really a very English show," said Yeston, "I knew I would have to have a color similar to the one found in the music of the great composers at that time, like Elgar or Vaughan Williams; this was for me an opportunity to bring in the musical theater an element of the symphonic tradition that I think we really haven't had before. That was very exciting."[2] The producers consulted the archives of the Titanic International Society for accurate portrayal of the play's characters.[3]

The high cost of Titanic′s set made it impossible for the show to have traditional out-of-town tryouts. Titanic′s previews began at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1997 with various technical troubles which were overcome by opening night, initially receiving mixed to positive reviews. The New Yorker′s was the first of numerous later unqualified raves: "It seemed a foregone conclusion that the show would be a failure; a musical about history's most tragic maiden voyage, in which fifteen hundred people lost their lives, was obviously preposterous.... Astonishingly, Titanic manages to be grave and entertaining, somber and joyful; little by little you realize that you are in the presence of a genuine addition to American musical theatre."[4]

It ran 804 performances winning five Tony Awards (including Best Musical), and the advocacy of Rosie O'Donnell.[5] With a Grammy Award nominated cast album, over the next twenty years the show received hundreds of professional and amateur productions worldwide and has become a national and international staple of musical theater.

Although it premiered in the same year as the film Titanic, also about the doomed ship, the musical and film have no connection.


1997 original Broadway production[edit]

Titanic opened on April 23, 1997 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre[6] and ran for 804 performances and 27 previews, closing on March 21, 1999. Directed by Richard Jones with choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, the cast included John Cunningham, David Garrison, Larry Keith, Alma Cuervo, Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, Don Stephenson, and Brian d'Arcy James.[6] Danny Burstein was a cast replacement. The set encompassed three levels to help form the impression of the size of the ship.[7] The lobby of the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre was redecorated for the production: the complete passenger list of the Titanic was painted on the walls, noting those who ultimately survived the disaster.

Orchestrator Jonathan Tunick won the first Tony Award for Best Orchestrations for his work on the score. The show received five Tony nominations, winning in all five categories, including the Tony Award for Best Musical.[8]

Stewart Laing was responsible for both the costume design and the scenic design, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design. The wardrobe is on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Florida. Paul Gallo was responsible for the lighting design. Steve Canyon Kennedy was responsible for the sound design.

First US National tour[edit]

The production toured the United States after closing on Broadway, beginning in January 1999 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, with a cast that featured Brian d'Arcy James (Los Angeles only), Marcus Chait, and William Parry.[9] There were also several subsequent tours with non-Equity performers.

Ensemble version[edit]

In 2012 original Broadway cast member Don Stephenson, who created the part of Charles Clarke, developed a new chamber version of Titanic in collaboration with choreographer Liza Gennaro. This scaled down production used 20 actors playing all of the roles, an abstract set design, projections of the actual ship and passengers, and new orchestrations designed to make the score sound as if it was being played by the ship's band. Material that had been previously cut from the original Broadway production was put back into the show, and existing material was reordered and reassigned. This new intimate version of Titanic opened in July 2012 at The Hangar Theatre. The production was nominated for 11 BroadwayWorld Awards which included Best Musical, Best Director, Best Choreographer, and Best Ensemble Performance. Stephenson subsequently remounted this production in hopes of an eventual Broadway revival at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, New York in January 2014.[10]

The US regional theater premiere of the ensemble version of the show was on October 26, 2014, at The Griffin Theatre Company in Chicago, directed by Scott Weinstein with music direction by Elizabeth Doran and choreography by Sawyer Smith.[11] It had its amateur premier at Avon Players in Rochester Hills, Michigan on September 8, 2017.[12]

Lincoln Center concert[edit]

In February 2014 most of the original Broadway cast reunited, including Michael Cerveris, Brian d'Arcy James, Martin Moran, David Garrison, David Costabile, and Becky Ann Baker for a staged concert of the musical at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. This concert was produced by Manhattan Concert Productions and featured a chorus of 200 singers from across the country. It was conducted by original musical director, music supervisor, and conductor Kevin Stites, choreographed by Liza Gennaro, and directed by Don Stephenson.[13]

Signature Theatre production[edit]

Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theatre presented Titanic from December 13, 2016, to January 29, 2017.[14] "I've always loved the musical Titanic and I have felt that Signature should reinvent this musical for our audiences in an exciting new way," said the company's artistic director Eric Schaeffer in an article about the production.[15][16]

International productions[edit]

A Dutch touring production (European premiere) opened on September 23, 2001, in Royal Theatre Carre, Amsterdam. It was also highly successful, and produced an original cast recording (sung in Dutch) as a companion to the original Broadway cast recording on RCA Records. On December 7, 2002, a German production opened in Hamburg, a copy of the Dutch production. A cast recording was made in German. A new song was written for the German production, "Drei Tage" (Three Days), but the song was not included on cast album. It was recorded and released on a German karaoke CD called Professional Playbacks: Showtunes Vol. 1.

On May 17, 2005, the Belfast Operatic Company premiered the show in Ireland in the Grand Opera House, Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Belfast Operatic Company performed the show again, in the Grand Opera House, Belfast, on the week the ship sailed, from April 10 to 14, 2012, with a special performance beginning at 11:40  pm on the Saturday night, the time which the ship hit the iceberg.[17] Composer Maury Yeston attended two performances of the show, having flown in from New York.

The show's Canadian professional premiere was presented in Toronto, by the Toronto Civic Light Opera in February 2006, directed by Joe Cascone, in a newly imagined staging which dispensed with the "slanted set" concept of the original production. This production featured Bob Deutsch as Captain Smith, David Haines as J. Bruce Ismay, and Cory Doran as Barrett. Staged with full orchestra and 40-member cast, the run was extended twice due to popular demand.

The Australian production starring Nick Tate as Captain Smith debuted in October 2006. The same production made its UK premiere at York Theatre Royal, and its London premiere at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage.

A Japanese engagement played from January to February 2007.

The premiere in Wales was performed November 15–20, 2004, at the Gwyn Hall by Neath Amateur Operatic Society. The musical returned to Wales from April 11–14, 2012 by Spotlight Theatre Company in the Parc and Dare Hall. Directed by Pat Evans, musical direction by Geraint Bessant, the performance included a special gala event on April 14 to mark 100 years to the day the tragedy struck. The London premiere was presented by West Wickham Operatic Society between November 21–26, 2006, at The Churchill Theatre Bromley, conducted by Paul Showell.

On February 9, 2008, Ballinrobe Musical Society, under the direction of Peter Kennedy, performed the first ever production to take place in the Republic of Ireland. The show ran from February 9 to 16. Michael Coen played Captain Edward Smith.[18]

There were French productions in Belgium in the cities of Liège and Charleroi by Stéphane Laporte and Jean-Louis Grinda from 2000 to 2006. The show premiered in Finland on March 29, 2008, in Seinäjoki City Theatre.

On April 26, 2010, the musical company Scenario premiered the show in Kolbotn, Norway. The show ran from April 26 to May 12.

In 2016, a revival of the musical was mounted at Chapel Off Chapel in Melbourne, Australia. The production was based on the ensemble version of the musical, and played for an eighteen night engagement. Directed by James Cutler, starring Don Winsor, Greta Sherriff, Jon Sebastian, and Paul Batey, it received overwhelming critical acclaim.[19][20]

A production in Seoul, Korea, opened in November 2017, produced by OD Productions.

A production of Titanic was to tour in the Netherlands in the 2020/2021 season, but it was rescheduled to the 2021/2022 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be produced by De Graaf & Cornelissen Entertainment and feature René van Kooten as Thomas Andrews.

Titanic has been translated into nine languages: Japanese, French, Dutch, German, Czech, Finnish and Norwegian, Korean, Hungarian, and a Danish version premiered in the Autumn of 2017.

Titanic has been produced many times in the UK and Europe in a smaller and more approachable form by serial producer Danielle Tarento. This includes productions at Southwark Playhouse (London), Charing Cross Theatre (London), Princess of Wales theatre (Toronto) and the UK and European tour.


Prologue: The Launching[edit]

Titanic's designer, Thomas Andrews marvels at the wondrous things mankind has accomplished ("In Every Age"); with the R.M.S. Titanic becoming the newest feat once thought impossible. Stoker Fred Barrett arrives at the dock in Southampton, amazed by the feat of engineering ("How Did They Build Titanic?"). He is joined by Lookout Frederick Fleet and wireless telegraph operator Harold Bride, and they gaze in awe at the "Ship of Dreams" ("There She Is") as the crew arrives. J. Bruce Ismay, Andrews, and Captain E. J. Smith congratulate each other on being the owner, designer, and captain of "The Largest Moving Object" in the world. The ship's passengers arrive; the Third and Second Class passengers feel privileged to be aboard the maiden voyage of the grandest ship ever to sail ("I Must Get on that Ship"). The First Class passengers arrive; their names and achievements are narrated by Second Class passenger Alice Beane ("1st Class Roster"). The Titanic sets sail, and the assembled company wishes her a safe crossing ("Godspeed Titanic").

Act 1[edit]

Now at sea, Ismay arrives on the bridge to inform Smith that he plans for the Titanic to arrive in New York on Tuesday afternoon rather than Wednesday morning, while Andrews insists that the maiden voyage be a safe one. As they've cleared land, Smith allows her speed to be increased slightly. Barrett, in the boiler room, disagrees with the order on such a new ship, but nonetheless complies ("Barrett's Song").

As the voyage continues, Ismay demands increasingly more speed, so the ship can build an impressive reputation. Smith complies despite Andrews' objections and warnings of icebergs in their course. Smith hails 1st Officer Murdoch's qualities, deeming him ready to assume a command of his own, but Murdoch feels he is not yet ready to handle the responsibilities of the job ("To Be a Captain").

In Second Class, Alice Beane longs for the grandeur that is First Class, while her husband Edgar, a successful hardware store owner, is content with their station. Charles Clarke, who is traveling to America to become a journalist, is accompanied by his fiancée Caroline Neville. Caroline's father doesn't approve of the engagement, so they are eloping to America. In steerage, three Irish lasses—each named Kate—dream with the rest of Third Class of the opportunities that await them in America ("Lady's Maid"). Kate McGowan is smitten with a young man traveling with them, Jim Farrell. Meanwhile, in First Class, the titans of industry recount the accomplishments that man has recently achieved, with the Titanic becoming the pinnacle. ("What a Remarkable Age This Is!").

In the wireless room, Bride is overwhelmed by the passengers' personal messages to be sent, though he finds time to handle Barrett's proposal to his girlfriend ("The Proposal/The Night Was Alive").

On Sunday morning, the First Class attends religious services ("God Lift Me Up"), then dances on deck to "The Latest Rag". Alice Beane has managed to infiltrate their ranks, though she is turned away several times by an alert steward. Edgar finds her and the two argue over their lifestyle choices ("I Have Danced"). As evening draws near, the temperature drops, and lookout Fleet finds the weather conditions difficult for spotting icebergs ("No Moon"). On deck, Kate McGowan tells Farrell that she needs to marry as she is carrying the child of a married man, and he accepts. Elderly passengers Isidor and Ida Straus discuss their plans for the years to come while Charlotte Drake Cardoza scandalizes the First Class men by joining them for cards in the First Class Smoke Room ("Autumn").

Suddenly, Fleet spots an iceberg and alerts the bridge. Murdoch, who's the senior officer on the bridge, takes evasive action, but the Titanic strikes the iceberg.

Act 2[edit]

The stewards begin waking the confused passengers, while they themselves do not have much information ("Wake Up, Wake Up"). Capt. Smith arrives on the bridge and is briefed on the situation. He orders all passengers to put on life vests, for Bride to begin sending distress messages, and for Andrews to inspect the damage. Andrews informs Smith and Ismay that the damage inflicted is more than the ship is designed to endure and that the ship will sink, reminding them that there are only enough lifeboats for less than half of the people aboard.

In the First Class Dining Salon, passengers refuse to believe that anything is wrong with the ship and are annoyed at being awakened in the middle of the night ("Dressed in Your Pyjamas in the Grand Salon"). Crew members are assuring them that there is no reason to panic. No one is aware of the ship's growing peril until a food cart rolls on its own, showing the ship's growing tilt. All the passengers and crew members quickly hurry to the lifeboats.

In Third Class, the three Kates and Farrell attempt to find a way up to boat deck, but are unable to until they are assisted by Barrett ("The Staircase"). Smith arrives in the radio room where Bride informs him that only the Carpathia is near enough to help, but is unable to arrive until after the Titanic has sunk. Smith, Andrews, and Ismay argue over responsibility for the disaster ("The Blame").

Women and children are ordered into the lifeboats, while the men are forced to stay behind ("To the Lifeboats"). Murdoch orders Fleet and Barrett into the last lifeboat to help man the oars, but Barrett doesn't know how to row a boat and lets Farrell, who can row, into the boat instead. Barrett bids farewell to his absent girlfriend while the rest of the passengers do the same to their loved ones ("We'll Meet Tomorrow").

The bellboy tells the captain that all the life boats have been launched, and that those remaining aboard accept their fate. Murdoch tells the Captain that he takes full responsibility for the accident, but Smith forgives him and then laments on how he had gone his entire career without experiencing any accident. Henry Etches, the first class steward, says a prayer ("To Be A Captain" (Reprise)). Isidor and Ida Straus (Ida had refused to leave her husband behind) affirm their long-lasting love for one another ("Still"). As the Captain declares the ship officially lost, Andrews—life vest unworn—remains in the first-class smoking room, obsessing over the ship's plans. He visualizes redesigning her during the final moments before the ship sinks beneath the waves ("Mr. Andrews' Vision").

In the early hours of the morning, the survivors are rescued by the Carpathia. Many of them recount the tragedy of the Titanic, mourning the loss of people and ship. Bride and Ismay, along with several of the survivors, discuss the possibilities that could have prevented the disaster ("The Foundering"). The survivors express hope that they will one day be reunited with their lost loved ones and abandoned dreams ("In Every Age/Finale").

Musical numbers[edit]

*Not included in the cast recording


In addition to the cast of forty three performers on stage, Jonathan Tunick orchestrated Yeston's score for the original production for 26 musicians in the pit. For the original cast album, the instrumentation was augmented to 38 musicians.[21]


Character Broadway
First U.S. National Tour
Avery Fisher Hall
Crew and staff aboard the RMS Titanic
Captain E. J. Smith John Cunningham William Parry John Cunningham
1st Officer William Murdoch David Costabile David Pittu David Costabile
2nd Officer Charles Lightoller John Bolton John Leone John Bolton
3rd Officer Herbert J. Pitman Matthew Bennett Raymond Sage Drew McVety
4th Officer Joseph Boxhall Andy Taylor Ken Triwush
Chief Engineer Joseph Bell Ted Sperling Bruce Thompson Ted Sperling
Harold Bride, Radioman Martin Moran Dale Sandish Martin Moran
Frederick Fleet, Lookout David Elder Timothy J. Alex David Elder
Frederick Barrett, Stoker Brian d’Arcy James
Robert Hichens, Quartermaster Adam Alexi-Malle Matthew Yang King
Henry Etches, 1st Class Steward Allan Corduner Edward Conery Allan Corduner
Stewardess Hutchinson Stephanie Park Jennifer Waldman
Stewardess Robinson Michele Ragusa Kristi Barber
Bellboy Mara Stephens Rebecca Lowman Joseph Castinado
Bandmaster Wallace Hartley Ted Sperling Bruce Thompson Ted Sperling
Bandsman Bricoux Adam Alexi-Malle Matthew Yang King
Bandsman Taylor Andy Taylor
1st Class
J. Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line David Garrison Adam Heller David Garrison
Thomas Andrews, the designer of the ship Michael Cerveris Kevin Gray Michael Cerveris
John Jacob Astor William Youmans Rob Donohoe William Youmans
Madeline Astor Lisa Datz Joann Merhaut Lisa Datz
Mme. Aubert Kimberly Hester Carole Denise
Charlotte Drake Cardoza (based on Charlotte Drake Cardeza) Becky Ann Baker Margo Skinner Becky Ann Baker
Edith Corse Evans Mindy Cooper Sarah Solie Shannon Mindy Cooper
Benjamin Guggenheim Joseph Kolinski Ken Krugman Joseph Kolinski
Isidor Straus Larry Keith S. Marc Jordan Ron Raines
Ida Straus Alma Cuervo Tiana Elg Alma Cuervo
John B. Thayer Michael Mulheren Bob Lauder Jr. Jonathan Brody
Jack Thayer Charles McAteer Kristi Barber
Marian Thayer Robin Irwin Stacie James Robin Irwin
George Widener Henry Stram Michael Shelle Scott Burkkell
Eleanor Widener Jody Gelb Laura Kenyon Jody Gelb
J. H. Rogers Andy Taylor Ken Triwush Drew McVety
The Major Matthew Bennett Raymond Sage
2nd Class
Edgar Beane (based on Edward Beane) Bill Buell David Beditz John Jellison
Alice Beane (based on Ethel Beane) Victoria Clark Liz McConahay Michele Ragusa
Charles Clarke Don Stephenson Philip Lehl Ryan Silverman
Caroline Neville (based on Ada Maria Clarke) Judith Blazer Christianne Tisdale Jill Paice
3rd Class
Kate McGowan Jennifer Piech Melissa Bell Jennifer Piech
Kate Murphey Theresa McCarthy Kate Suber Theresa McCarthy
Kate Mullins Erin Hill Jodi Jinks Erin Hill
Jim Farrell Clarke Thorell Richard Roland Clarke Thorell
On Shore
Frank Carlson Henry Stram Michael Shelle Scott Burkkell

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1997 Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Peter Stone Won
Best Original Score Maury Yeston Won
Best Scenic Design Stewart Laing Won
Best Orchestrations Jonathan Tunick Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Orchestrations Won
1997 Grammy Award Best Musical Show Album Nominated


  1. ^ Kalfatovic, Mary. "Maury Yeston", Contemporary Musicians (ed. Luann Brennan). Vol. 22, Gale Group, Inc., 1998
  2. ^ a b BMI Music World, Fall 1997, pp. 24–29
  3. ^ "Titanic Buffs Hope Musical Will Float". Herald-News. March 20, 1997. p. B7. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  4. ^ Franklin, Nancy (May 12, 1997). "The Gem of the Ocean". The New Yorker. pp. 102–103.
  5. ^ Stein, Tobie S. and Bathurst, Jessica. "Arranging Interviews" Performing Arts Management, Allworth Communications, Inc., 2008, ISBN 1-58115-650-2, p. 320
  6. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (April 24, 1997). "'Titanic,' the Musical, Is Finally Launched, and the News Is It's Still Afloat". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  7. ^ Kenrick, John. "Review: 'Titanic', Lunt Fontanne Theatre, NYC – 1997". Musicals101.com. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  8. ^ "1997 Tony Award Winners". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  9. ^ Ehren, Christine (December 10, 1998). "Titanic Tour Announces Cast; d'Arcy James Returns for LA Engagement". Playbill. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  10. ^ De Santis, Solange. ""Titanic" sails into Westchester Broadway Theatre". BroadwayTheatre.com. Westchester Broadway Theatre. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  11. ^ Jones, Chris (October 27, 2014). "REVIEW: 'Titanic' by Griffin Theatre". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  12. ^ Cristi, A.A. (August 14, 2017). "Witness History Aboard Avon Players' TITANIC". BroadwayWorld. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  13. ^ Suskin, Steven (February 18, 2014). "Michael Cerveris, Brian d'Arcy James and More Offer a Titanic Night at Lincoln Center". Playbill.
  14. ^ "Titanic". Signature Theatre. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  15. ^ Gans, Andrew (December 1, 2016). "Signature Cast Soars in New Titanic Music Video". Playbill.
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew (December 13, 2016). "Signature's Titanic Musical Sets Sail December 13". Playbill.
  17. ^ "Titanic the Musical". Belfast Operatic Company. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  18. ^ Horan, Denise (February 5, 2008). "Titanic epic to dock in Ballinrobe". The Mayo News. Archived from the original on February 10, 2008.
  19. ^ "'Titanic: The Musical' at Chapel off Chapel". The Plus Ones. July 13, 2016.
  20. ^ "Titanic The Musical". TheatrePeople.com.au. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016.
  21. ^ "Titanic". Playbill Vault. Retrieved May 13, 2019.

External links[edit]