Martin Moran: The Man Behind Titanic's S.O.S.
By Kathy Henderson
July 27, 1997
Before Titanic became the surprise winner of five 1997 Tony Awards,
including Best Musical, Martin Moran wondered if audiences would "get it,"
as he puts it. "I always believed that the show had something truly beautiful
and unusual to offer, but I wasn't sure that it would be accepted in the
commercial arena," he says. "But even early in the run, we could feel audiences
In a huge ensemble, Moran makes a strong impression as Harold Bride, the
telegraph operator who doggedly tapped out a new distress signal as the R.M.S.
Titanic went down on the night of April 14, 1912: S.O.S. His duet with a
lovesick stoker (Brian d'Arcy James), "The Proposal/The Night Was Alive,"
was submitted to Tony voters on a special mini-CD. "It's an exquisitely beautiful
melody," notes Moran, "and a surprising juxtaposition between a guy proposing
to his loved one through my character's loved one the telegraph."
Though the real Bride bravely stayed at his post until the electricity went
out moments before the Titanic sank, he survived by landing in an air bubble
under a collapsible boat. "The moment the Carpathia landed in New York with
the survivors, Marconi took a reporter on board where Bride was still tapping
away on the telegraph, sending messages to the loved ones of survivors,"
says Moran, who studied Morse code and "read copiously" about the disaster
before rehearsals began. "You get hooked in," he says. "It's such an extraordinary