TV Special To Trace B'way Titanic April 20
By Kathy Henderson and David Lefkowitz
April 17, 1997
The new Broadway musical, Titanic, is set to open April 23, but NY
television viewers can get an in-depth look at the show three days earlier
when WWOR-TV (channel 9) will offer a 2-hour special on the making of this
major musical. Airing April 20, 8-10 PM E.S.T., the documentary features
interviews with creators Maury Yeston (score) and Peter Stone (libretto),
along with cast-members, designers and technical people.
In other Titanic news, the producers of the forthcoming musical ran
the following interview (written by frequent Playbill contributor Kathy Henderson)
as a newspaper ad. It contains an interesting glimpse of the Maury Yeston/Peter
Stone musical, which begins previews March 27 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
The text is reproduced here by permission:
"How did they build Titanic?" a crewman sings as the new Broadway musical
Titanic begins. "Forty-six thousand tons of steel, eleven stories
high, she's a great palace, floating quiet as a lullaby." Eighty-five years
after the supposedly unsinkable ship hit an iceberg and went down, its story
is being told, truthfully and vibrantly, on the stage.
"It was one of the great events that shaped our century," says Maury Yeston,
the Tony Award-winning composer of "Nine," "Grand Hotel" and now Titanic.
"The wealthiest people in the world were on that ship, and it carried the
dreams of a civilization. The ship itself was a dream of technology - the
rudder alone was bigger than [Christopher Columbus' flagship] the Santa Maria."
Time hasn't dimmed interest in the Titanic. On the contrary, a recent Internet
search for information on the ship turned up an astonishing 9,866 entries,
from passenger lists to views from the deck to updates on recovered artifacts.
"It endlessly fascinates," notes Yeston. "There are stories of cowardly
behavior and chaos, but also of extraordinary behavior and heroism."
Yeston and Tony Award winning book writer Peter Stone (1776, The Will
Rogers Follies, Woman of the Year) shared a conviction that the saga
of the Titanic would work perfectly as a musical. "The characters are dramatic,
and they reflect the class system that existed at the time," notes Stone.
Adds Yeston, "In musicals, it's emotions that cause people to sing. Here,
you have human beings caught up in an epic drama that generates overwhelming
The human stories of the Titanic's passengers and crew create "a vivid and
moving musical," says Michael David, a partner of Dodger Endemol Theatricals,
the co-producers of Titanic. "It is not about a tragedy -- not about
a ship breaking up," David says of the show. "More than anything, I think,
we are intrigued by the amazing cast of real characters in this story and
the opportunity to engage all of them during this extraordinary tragic -
and heroic - moment, where we know what is happening and they don't. My
highest hope is for an audience to feel emotionally nourished when they leave
"It's about the captain and the owner and the builder, all of whom bear responsibility
for the tradegy," Yeston adds. "It's about a stoker who knows they're going
too fast and who sings about his life in the hold of the ship. It's about
the telegraph operator who tried to summon help, and the lookout man who
saw the iceberg too late for the ship to turn around. It's about Irish girls
on their way to America to find a better life and middle-class people who
hope to rub elbows with the millionaires on board. And, of course, it's
about the robber barons who literally controlled the world and expected to
maintain their privileged positions forever. In fact, it's about all of