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West Side Story Hits All the Right Notes at Westchester Broadway Theater
By Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

May 20, 2015
True, West Side Story wrestles with such difficult themes as bigotry, hatred, and gang violence; but it’s the powerful dancing and lovely singing that take center stage in the production of this classic musical that opened last month at Elmsford’s Westchester Broadway Theater.
    
With its tragic tale of star-crossed lovers from rival New York City gangs, West Side Story is a staple for theatergoers. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it premiered on Broadway in 1957 and has been frequently revived ever since, both on and off the Great White Way. Thanks to music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, it features unforgettable songs including the beautiful ballads “Tonight” and “Maria”; the edgy “Cool”; the biting “Gee, Officer Krupke”; and the sizzling “America.” The 1961 film adaptation earned ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The masterful Jerome Robbins choreographed the Broadway version and co-directed the film version – which also includes his choreography.
    
But even given this weighty legacy, the current WBT production feels remarkably fresh and exciting. The dance numbers are both lovingly familiar and enjoyably inventive, thanks to director/choreographer Barry McNabb, who says in the printed program that his dances feature both original sequences and “signature steps that an audience expects to see. ” The Sharks, the Jets, and all the girlfriends are strong dancers, and Allison Thomas Lee, as Anita, is mesmerizing. The opening number, “Jet Song,” which pits the Sharks against the Jets in an extended dance sequence, is electric; later numbers, such as “America,” “Gee Officer Krupke,” and “Somewhere Ballet,” do not disappoint.
    
As for the singing, Carly Evans, as Maria, has a clear and angelic voice, while Zach Trimmer, who plays Tony (and was also recently seen as Lt. Joe Cable in WBT’s South Pacific), has one that resonates with authority and elegance.
    
Overall, West Side Story on the WBT stage hits all the right notes  -- at times sassy, at times moving, and always gripping and powerful. It runs through July 5. For more information call the box office at 914-592-222 or visit www.BroadwayTheatre.com.

Showbiz at the Schoolhouse Theater

March 11, 2015
Bridget Thorne of Armonk is pleased to be newly elected to the Board of The Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls, NY. Thorne spent many years making a living in the theater and in animation, and several more years making costumes for the Byram Hills High School Stage.

The beautiful building that houses the Schoolhouse Theater was formerly Croton Falls Elementary School. In 1983, Lee Pope, a North Castle resident and founder, transformed the building into a visual arts center. Over the years, theatrical amenities were added and in 1998 the Schoolhouse became a full fledged, not-for-profit regional theater.

One of The Schoolhouse's new initiatives is to introduce future artists to the many disciplines that surround the collaborative and creative process of the arts center. As The Schoolhouse moves forward classes, workshops, as well as special events to promote this cause will be added.

The Schoolhouse is now offering a new Theater Arts Program. The new program is offering Creative Drama for ages 6 to 8, Beginning Acting for ages 9 to 11, Acting I for ages 8 to 10, and Acting II for ages 12 to 14.

Further, The Schoolhouse Theater is excited to have teamed up with The Yellow Finch Project for a show on April 11. The Yellow Finch Project is a non-profit organization that uses theater to unleash creativity in students
with special needs.

The Schoolhouse Theater proudly presents Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon-Marigolds, directed by Elizabeth Van Dyke. The show runs weekends from March 6 through March 29, with Saturday and Sunday
matinees at 3:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday evening performances at 8:00 p.m.

www.schoolhousetheater.org

Armonk Players Read The Vandal


March 5, 2015

Intrepid community theater-goers were well-rewarded when they came out on a bitterly cold night to see a reading of Hamish Linklater’s The Vandal produced by the Armonk Players at Whippoorwill Hall on February 24. This seemingly simple story takes place one night at a bus stop in Kingston, New York and it evolves into a complex drama about three characters, initially designated as The Man, The Woman, and The Boy, all uncertain about their lives.   


Under Pia Haas’s able direction and brilliantly acted by Larry Reina, Angie Joachim and Greg Mangieri, the characters misrepresent themselves by telling half-truths and outright lies, both about their actions and about who they are.  As more about the characters is revealed, the audience’s reaction to them shifts as well: curiosity turns to impatience with the Boy; empathy for the Woman becomes uncomfortable awareness when it becomes apparent that she is an alcoholic; and annoyance at the Man’s bullying manner turns to sympathy when his emotional pain is revealed.  
    
Haas’s direction is noteworthy. To create a sense of immediacy, she seated the audience in rows onstage, half facing upstage and the other half facing downstage, thus creating an aisle (across the stage) in which the action takes place.  

In the “Q & A” session afterwards, the actors emphasized how her direction brought this play to life, clarified their understanding of the characters, and enabled them to create this performance within the limitations of a few rehearsals.
     
Linklater is known as an actor and this little gem of a play is his first. It is filled with humor, irony, and great dialogue and it is clear that Linklater is capable of excellent character development and pacing of action.  
    
The Armonk Players will be producing Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still under Pia Haas’s direction on June 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, and 13 at Whippoorwill Hall. The New York Times says, "This Broadway hit play by Pulitzer Prize-winner Donald Margulies is a witty, intelligent look at what happens when ordinary life is refracted through the lens of war." It “crackles with bright wit and intelligence.”

Staff Writer

WBT Camelot
Camelot Shines at Westchester Broadway Theatre
By Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

February 9, 2015
The mythical city of Camelot existed for just one brief shining moment, according to lyrics from the classic Broadway musical of that name; but luckily for local theatergoers, there are plenty of moments left to see Westchester Broadway Theater’s (WBT) production of Camelot, which shines with talent and an abundance of charm.


Camelot tells the story of the legendary King Arthur, an unlikely ruler who splendidly led his kingdom through a period of peace and prosperity, only to be betrayed by those closest to him. The Lerner-and-Lowe musical, which debuted in 1960, continues to move audiences with its depiction of an Eden-like city’s fleeting existence, and its themes of human frailty and the potential for redemption.
    
But poignant themes aside, Camelot is known mostly for its music, from the wistful title song to the lovely ballads of How to Handle a Woman, and If Ever I Would Leave You to the playful show tunes of The Lusty Month of May, and What Do the Simple Folk Do? And throughout all the musical numbers, the WBT production never falters. Jeremiah James is a handsome and charismatic Lancelot, with a singing voice that’s rich and powerful. Jennifer Hope Wills is a fetching Guenevere, with a voice that’s so lovely, it comes as no surprise that she spent four years on Broadway as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.
    
Clark Scott Carmichael, whose impressive resume includes stage, film and TV credits, is a fine King Arthur, transitioning movingly from a naïve youth to a wise and sad but still hopeful adult. And Martin Van Treuren, in the role of the bumbling King Pellinore, is so irresistible; it’s hard not to be disappointed whenever he exits the stage.
    
All in all, WBT’s Camelot is a winner, with plenty of personality and just the right mix of humor and sentiment. Don’t miss its shining moment here in Westchester.
    
Camelot runs through April 5. For more information call the box office at 914-592-222 or visit www.BroadwayTheatre.com.

South Pacific WBT

South Pacific Soars at Westchester Broadway Theatre
By Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

November 25, 2014
It’s always a risk to see a regional production of a classic Broadway musical, and this is especially true of a powerhouse like South Pacific. Musical-theater lovers likely have fond memories of the 2008 Broadway revival, the enduring movie adaption, or even the original Broadway run, and comparisons can be harsh. Nevertheless, the current production of South Pacific at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford is nothing short of delightful. The staging is spirited, the set is inventive, and the cast does great honor to that exquisite Rodgers and Hammerstein score.


Set largely on a military base in the South Pacific during World War II, South Pacific explores issues of race and prejudice through two complicated love stories: One involves American nurse Nellie Forbush and Emile de Becque, a French expatriate with two mixed-race children; and the other follows an American officer, Joseph Cable, who falls in love with a young Tonkinese woman named Liat. A powerful pair of narratives to be sure, but it’s the music that makes South Pacific transcendent. And there are many wonderful musical moments to savor in the WBT production.

In the role of de Becque, George Dvorsky has a strong and rich voice that brings great passion to such beloved ballads as Some Enchanted Evening and This Nearly Was Mine, while Haley Swindal is animated and accomplished in the pivotal role of Nellie. Alison T. Chi makes a beguiling Liat, and Zach Trimmer gives a moving performance as the emotionally tortured Cable. In this role, Trimmer delivers a powerful rendition of You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught, that unforgettable and stirring indictment of bigotry and intolerance.

As Bloody Mary, Liat’s conniving and oft-times crude mother, Joanne Javien gives a standout performance. Her voice is one of the highlights of this production. Kudos, too, to Bill E. Dietrich as Luther Billis, who leads the cast in a rousing and eminently entertaining rendition of “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame.”

South Pacific runs through November 30, including an afternoon show after a Thanksgiving Day buffet. The production then takes a four-week hiatus, as WBT presents its holiday show. The musical returns on New Year’s Eve and continues through January 25. For more information call the box office at 914-592-222 or visit www.BroadwayTheatre.com.


A Good Night Indeed of Romeo and Juliet

November 21, 2014
The Byram Hills Stage opened with William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet on Thursday night. The long days and nights of the cast and crew rehearsals were evident as the 27 young thespians presented the complicated story of two young lovers whose unfortunate fate finally brought their family’s rivalry to an end.

It was a brave undertaking for a high school, remarked one attendee.

Director John Anthony Lopez said, “Our performers need to translate and filter the text in order to truly take us through the elegant but ofttimes undecipherable prose of this four- hundred-year-old masterpiece….” 



The performances of the two lovers who parted in such sweet sorrow was a gallant effort put forth by Dominique Karanfilian, who played Lady Juliet, and Nick Muhart who played Romeo.

The audience was treated to a good night indeed; a feast of sorts beyond splendor with much weeping and wailing. There were many supporting roles that were well cast. The talents of Rebecca Schilsky, as the good sweet nurse, Jonathan Bugbee as the witty and skeptic Mercutio, and Jake White as Friar Lawrence, Romeo’s confidante, brought a breath of fresh air to the stage.  

The dueling scenes of the swordsmen were executed as seasoned actors. As the story unfolds, the revenge of the dagger leads to an outcome of a tortured future for Romeo who was banished, only to return as a desperate renegade.

The scenery appeared in multiple layers within a large structure as the scenes flowed into one another. The settings transformed from alleyways to tombs and to Lady Juliet’s bed chambers. The balcony was draped in English ivy, while the tombs were entered from behind the scene’s dark and gloomy entryways.

The Elizabethan era costume designs were stunning. Many costumes were made of bright satin, as the men were clad in breeches and hats, while the matriarchs were decorated with high collars. They were a labor of love, says Andrea DeLorenzo, who handmade many Byram Hills stage costumes over the years with Maggie Paschke, and Joe and Jo Boscarino. The costumes were retrofitted from Once Upon a Mattress that was presented on stage at Byram Hills in 1996.

Romeo and Juliet will be performed again Friday and Saturday, November 21 and 22 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.


Alexander Baron

Vote For Me: A Musical Debate Comes to Off Broadway
By Eden Arielle Gordon

July 9, 2014
This summer, a new production of the musical Vote For Me: A Musical Debate will open at the Roy Arias Stage IV Theatre in New York City. The production, directed by Michael Lopez and musically directed by William Demaniow, is, like many of the others that float through NYC stages, complete with professional actors trying to make it in the Big Apple, stage directors, lighting, comedy, and musical numbers. But there is one thing that sets this summer’s production of Vote For Me apart: its executive producer is a high school senior, and in fact the show is largely managed by high school students.


Alexander Baron, founder of Baron Brother Productions, Inc., which will be producing the show, is a rising senior at Byram Hills High School. The concept for his production company was born in March of 2013, when his original play entitled Love Behind Barswas selected to be performed at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in its Fall One Act Play Competition. The festival provides a chance for new plays that have been produced independently to run for several days in a professional theatre.

The experience inspired Baron to pursue producing on a larger scale. A performer since the age of five, he has been involved in many performances both on and off the stage. In the winter of 2014, he worked as the assistant director for the school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. His move to the professional world marks an expansion of the theatrical skills he has been working on nearly his entire life.

Baron is not the only high school student who will be working on Vote For Me; other Byram Hills High School students will assist with lighting and tech work as well as assistant stage managing, assistant music directing, and publicity. The show will be professionally directed and cast, but the young blood actively working on this production is symbolic of a new generation of Broadway professionals to come.

The fact that Vote For Me will be largely managed by high school students is far from the only thing that makes the show unique. It was written by Drew Fornarola and Scott Elmegreen, both of whom met at Princeton University and have collaborated on several projects together. The show is an audacious parody of the presidential elections and modern politics as a whole. It involves two candidates, the liberal Governor Janet Tilghman and the conservative Senator Buddy Rounasville, as they participate in a debate prior to the presidential election. The witty, often heated exchange between the two features a multitude of musical numbers concerning topics ranging from Iran to abortion and everything in between. The candidates both receive political strategy advice from the same mysterious advisor. Other characters include Tilghman’s husband, who is nervous about becoming the first male First Lady, and a moderator who often acts as the voice of the audience.

The most exceptional part of the show, however, occurs at its conclusion, when audience members have the chance to actually vote for whichever presidential candidate they choose via cell phone. The votes will be directed to a computer and a winner will be selected each night based on the audience's own selection.

This inventive, timely musical will run from August 7 to August 16. Tickets can be purchased online at voteforme2014.tk.

“Baron Brother Productions has a very hopeful future ahead,” said Baron, who “only hopes to produce more shows Off-Broadway, and of course make it to Broadway.” With “new projects and ideas to work with in the near, and even far, future ahead,” it looks like he is on the right track.


North Castle Arts Council Proposed
by Louise T. Gantress

Updated June 13, 2014
At the Armonk Chamber of Commerce meeting the morning of June 11, Sam Morell proposed creation of a North Castle Arts Council (NCAC). Morell is the founder of The Small Town Theatre. He stated the objective of the NCAC would be to help support and coordinate among performing arts groups in North Castle, as in addition to his own group there are the Armonk Players, Standing Ovations Studios, Theatre Arts Workshop and coming soon, the Hudson Stage Company.

Coordination would facilitate an annual calendar so groups would not compete either for space to perform or for an audience. The groups could also share marketing, volunteers, and common resources, perhaps including equipment. This method sounds like a rational and economical approach to Morell.

Prior to the Chamber’s meeting, Morell had approached the president of the North Castle Library Board of Trustees, the president of the Friends of the North Castle Library, Inc., and the president of the Armonk Players on the concept. All agree that NCAC would help to maximize use of the library’s Whippoorwill Hall - a key objective of the Library Board. The NCAC would focus on the three hamlets of North Castle: Armonk, Banksville and North White Plains.

Indeed, one of Morell’s suggestions is to combine a “dinner theater” approach. In his vision “creativity is a core human characteristic” and the “arts hold uniquely transformative potential.” To Morell, synergy and efficiency will result in greater utilization of existing resources (Whippoorwill Hall, the Hergenhan Recreation Center and Wampus Brook Park), and prevent overlap and saturation.

Robby Morris, the Armonk Chamber of Commerce’s secretary, says the arts “need coordination just to get their calendars together. It’s about synergy not competition, even to fundraise.”


Armonk News Armonk Players presents Play On
The Armonk Players presents
PLAY ON!
By Rick Abbot
Directed by Mark Pierce

Play On! is the hilarious story of a theater group trying desperately to put on the play Murder Most Foul, in spite of maddening interference from a haughty author who keeps revising the script. Act I is a rehearsal of the dreadful show, Act II is the near disastrous dress rehearsal, and the final act is the actual performance in which anything that can go wrong does. Even the sound effects reap their share of laughter.
 


Members of the cast are Bruce Apar, Matt Benincasa, Danny Burke, Judeth DeMott, Annalisa DiNucci, Elaine Healy, Tara Perucci, Martin Posner, Amanda Urban and Jennifer Weiss.

Performance dates and times:
Friday, June 6, 2014 at 8pm
Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 8pm
Sunday, June 8, 2014 at 4pm
Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 8pm
Friday, June 13, 2014 at 8pm
Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 8pm

Whippoorwill Hall Theatre (at North Castle Public Library) 19 Whipporwill Road East,  Armonk, NY.  
Tickets: Adults: $20, Students (18 and under): $10  call:(914) 861-2049 or order online: 
www.Armonkplayers.org

Bullets Over Broadway
By Solange De Santis

April 1, 2014
Armonk’s fledgling Broadway producers, Jed and Bronna Canaan, apparently still haven’t learned that if you’re going to invest in a show, you need to see the show first. For their second venture, “Bullets Over Broadway,” based on the Woody Allen movie, Jed saw a read-through of the musical, but only after parting with their funds.

However, this model seems to be working for them, as their first adventure in producing, “Matilda,” is a nightly sellout at the Shubert Theatre since opening last April. “Bullets Over Broadway” opens on April 10 and is currently in previews. While “Matilda” had already been playing in London before its Broadway opening, “Bullets” was developed in New York under the direction and choreography of five-time Tony-winner Susan Stroman.

It’s the story of young playwright David Shayne (played by Zach Braff) who hires a mobster’s actress girlfriend (Heléne York) in order to get financing for his play. He’s soon involved with alcoholic leading lady Helen Sinclair (Marin Mazzie, in the role for which Dianne Wiest won an Oscar) and finds Cheech the gangster (Nick Cordero) an unsung but talented writer.

Minor mobster Nick Valenti is played by Vincent Pastore, who will forever be Big Pussy to viewers of “The Sopranos.” According to a recent New Yorker story that followed Stroman during the first days of rehearsal, Allen dislikes much new Broadway music and only agreed to see “Bullets” staged when the idea arose of using existing songs of the 1920s and 1930s.   

Over coffee at Armonk’s Tazza café recently, Jed and Bronna reminisced about the heart-pumping route that leads to opening-night parties and the Tony awards. Producers and cast were dismayed in February when Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, wrote that he had sexually assaulted her as a child, but the controversy seems to be having little effect on the show.

At Tazza, the Canaans were cheered by a story by Broadway columnist Michael Riedel that appeared the day before in the New York Post, which said “Bullets” has “the sound of a hit” and is the show to beat at the Tonys this season. That would be sweet, as “Matilda” last year won four awards, but was beaten out last year for best musical by “Kinky Boots.”

How did they get involved? As big Woody Allen fans, “we made inquiries with the lead producer, Julian Schlossberg, teamed up with our producing partner, Sharon Carr, and ended up getting the last slot remaining as associate producers. We hesitated, then we pulled the trigger,” Jed said.

The Canaans and Carr had one week to raise $500,000 (out of a total $13 million budget), so they headed for the phones and computers, calling friends and acquaintances with significant resources. “It’s never easy to ask people for huge chunks of money,” Bronna said, quoting the well-known statistic that 80% of Broadway shows fail to make a profit and of the ones that do re-coup their investment, very few are in the million-dollar-gross-a-week club.

That select company currently includes “Wicked,” “The Lion King,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Kinky Boots” – and “Matilda.”

According to Jed, they are very clear about the risky nature of the investment. “I say, ‘if you lose everything are you still going to go out and have a drink with me?’” If “Bullets” tanks, mused Bronna, “we might have to move, go into the witness protection program.” They have not, she wanted to make clear, approached the Mafia for investment, in imitation of the musical’s plot.

The Canaans have been involved with another aspect of theater for more than a decade. Their company, Theater Extras  makes free show tickets available to a paid membership when producers are seeking to fill unsold seats. Their producing arm is called North Castle Theatricals.

They and their two daughters, who are 14 and 11, have lived in Armonk for seven years. Jed and Bronna grew up with a love of theater and they are passing that on to their children, even before birth. “We took our older daughter when she was two and a-half to see ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and I was pregnant,” Bronna recalled.

However, the Canaans approach producing as a commercial project. “It is a business. Our love of theater has taken us into business,” said Bronna, noting that they raised funds for “Matilda” and “Bullets” in a relatively short amount of time. “If anything, we hope to have more lead time to raise funds for our next show,” Bronna said.

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Students to Perform Fiddler on the Roof at Byram Hills High School
By Louise T. Gantress

March 3, 2014
Save the dates: March 6 at 7:00 p.m., March 7 at 8:00 p.m., and March 8 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. for the Byram Hills High School’s Stage 2014 production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. The play is based on the Sholem Aleichem story of “Tevye and his Daughters”. The date is 1905, just before the Jewish community is to be moved from the village of Anatevka in Tsarist Russia.

“Fiddler on the Roof” is a good choice for the Byram Hills community for several reasons: the depth of characters and relationships between them, the aspect of cross-curriculum studies to embrace history, literature, cultural values and humanities (music, art and drama), and the fact that there is a large cast which uniquely uses a significant number of boys.

The 1964 musical was one of the longest running musical performances on Broadway and the 1971 film was also popular.


Director John Anthony Lopez has been a performer for twenty-five years and prior to joining Byram Hills, he ran a drama program in another district. He has twenty years experience of building sets, and currently teaches art at the high school.

The young thespians are intent on their performances while some wish to pursue a career in the arts. The students take storytelling seriously and enjoy acting in a play which includes song dance, comedy and tragedy. The ensemble based production has 51 cast members, 40 technical crew and 15 in the live orchestra under the direction of Alan Lounsbury. Jonah Piali is the production's Music Director. 

Parental support for providing meals, costumes, chaperoning, running ticket windows and publicity has been critical in the success of the high school productions. The Byram Hills Foundation had previously provided grants to upgrade the sound and lighting systems in the auditorium.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. For ticket information call 273-9200, ext 4550, or email stagetkts@byramhills.org


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“Titanic” sails into Westchester Broadway Theatre
By Solange De Santis
Photos by John Vecchiolla

The 1997 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Titanic,” is being launched again in a new, intimate production and has docked at Westchester Broadway Theatre direct from rave reviews in London. It is scheduled to run until Feb. 23, then steams toward Toronto before a Broadway berth.

Last night, composer Maury Yeston was in attendance at the venerable Elmsford dinner theater, where the menu features four entrees served on the great ship and a wine/rum punch named after the White Star line. Yeston’s score won a Tony, as did the late Peter Stone’s book, Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations, Stewart Laing’s scenic design and the musical itself.

This revised version, directed by a member of the original cast, Don Stephenson, features a nearly-bare stage, a set wall of luggage and packages, a high frame representing the legendary ship’s bridge and projections of the grand staircase, starry night, etc., to deepen the action.

Without special effects (apart from the projections) or large set pieces, this “Titanic” focuses on relationships and the people who made up the dynamic, class-conscious society of about 2,200 on the “largest moving object in the world.” The cast now numbers about 20, rather than the 60 in the original show.

The story is by now so familiar -- the gigantic ship collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on her April, 1912 maiden voyage, with only about 700 survivors in too-few lifeboats -- that audiences need something new in any re-telling. Here, WBT’s “Titanic” brilliantly delivers an evening of passion and poignancy, with Yeston’s gorgeous score packing an emotional charge.

Of those connected with the ship, stolid Capt. Smith (William Parry) contends with ambitious owner Bruce Ismay’s (Adam Heller) desire for more speed and faster records as he leads his officers Murdoch (Jonathan Brody) and Lightoller (Will Boyajian). In first class, Macy’s owner Isidor Strauss (David Studwell) and wife Ida (Kay Walbye) enjoy the sumptuous accommodations, along with the Astors, the Wideners and other members of the pre-World War I, pre-income tax era.

In second class, Alice Beane (Donna English) strives to get a peek at the top hats and evening gowns in the first class “saloons” while husband Edgar Beane (Philip Hoffman) humors her. Charles Clarke (Noah Plomgren) and Caroline Neville (Patricia Noonan) are heading to America to be married. In third class, three Irish girls named Kate (Sarah Charles, Celeste Rose and Elizabeth Hake) all dream of a better life in America as a lady’s maid or a governess.

Butler Henry Etches (Drew McVety, who also doubles the role of Third Officer Pitman) sees that the rich are well-fed, while at the bottom of the ranks – and of the ship – stoker Frederick Barrett (Xander Chauncey) nurtures his own hopes and dreams.

Director Stephenson and choreographer Liza Gennaro have created fast-paced, fluid movement and clear groupings as the characters meet, interact and sometimes exist in separate worlds on the same ship.

It’s hard to single out particular members of the solidly professional cast, but McVety gives Etches a wry dignity as he expresses “What A Remarkable Age This Is!”, then tries to continue to serve his passengers during a night of crisis with “Wake Up, Wake Up!” and “Dressed in Your Pyjamas in the Grand Salon.”

Chauncey bring an almost desperate sense of urgency to the character of Barrett, singing “The Proposal” as he regards a photograph of his intended. The three Kates charmingly sing about being a “Lady’s Maid” while Plomgren and Noonan light up Charles and Caroline with young love in “I Give You My Hand.”

However, it’s in the second act that Yeston’s score reaches intense, near-operatic heights as the characters face life-and-death decisions. Studwell and Walbye’s achingly brilliant voices shine as Isidor and Ida refuse to be parted, expressing their decades of love and loyalty in “Still.”

As the ship’s architect, Thomas Andrews, Tom Hewitt heartbreakingly sings of his creation’s break-up in “Mr. Andrews’ Vision.” Hewitt, Heller and Parry as Andrews, Ismay and Smith angrily seek to portion out “The Blame” in a trio worthy of any Verdi opera. Lights fade on the characters who were lost, as the survivors, wrapped in blankets from the rescue ship Carpathia, mourn with “In Every Age” and salute the legend of Titanic with “Godspeed.”