REVIEW: Avon Players Christens Their 2017-2018 Season with ‘Titanic: The Musical’

Over a hundred years after the RMS Titanic’s fateful voyage, its story still resonates with audiences.

Wait a minute. Arguably the worst maritime disaster in history … as a musical? Yes. But if you’re expecting something overly sentimental, or along the lines of the 1997 movie, you’ll be disappointed. And that’s a good thing. Instead this play focuses more on the human experience of its passengers through two attitudes: hubris and hope.

From L -R: Scott Wickson as Thomas Andrews, Jeff Bednar as Captain E.J. Smith, Brendon Johnson as Harold Bride, and Jim Canu as J. Bruce Ismay
Photo credit: Avon Players Theatre Facebook page

Hubris rears its ugly head early on in the form of English businessman J. Bruce Ismay, played wonderfully by Jim Canu. As the chairman and managing director of the White Star Line, he was fanatical in his insistence that safety precautions be reduced to accommodate the luxury first-class passengers expected. He was also fixated on how fast the Titanic could go and how quickly it could arrive at its destination. Caught up in Ismay’s destructive vision are Thomas Andrews (Scott Wickson) and Captain E.J. Smith (Jeff Bednar). Andrews was the naval architect in charge of the Titanic’s plans, while Smith was a seasoned seafarer. Over the course of the play, the trio go from congratulating each other for accomplishing such a great feat to pointing fingers at who is to blame for the ship’s ultimate demise. It’s an interesting dynamic to watch and a great cautionary tale in today’s climate of trying to outdo the other guy to make just about anything bigger or better. However, to focus solely on what went wrong cheats us out of the hope this play gives.

The Titanic cast reaching for their dreams.
Photo credit: Avon Players Theatre Facebook page

Frederick Barrett (Clayton Hargrave) sings passionately a sort of layman’s lament for the promise the voyage brings for him and others. Because at its core, the Titanic is a ship pf dreams for all aboard: a chance for new beginnings, a chance to show off superiority, and a chance to rise above your class and dare to dream for what’s always been just out of your reach. This play reminds us that no matter where we come from, or our social standing, that we all have aspirations. All themes again that still ring true today.

The majority of the cast is comprised of Avon Players veterans and it shows as they effortlessly handle more than one role with aplomb. The stage is sparsely decorated, which helps keep the focus on the story and the colorful characters on board. You’ll also be treated to a sweeping score by composer Maury Yeston, which earned him a 1997 Tony Award, as it did writer Peter Stone for Titanic’s book. For me, one of the most poignant moments in the play came towards the end during “Still” sung by Judy Privasky and Mark Palmer in the roles of real-life couple Ida and Isidor Straus. Over 1,500 people died when the Titanic sank. While the majority of casualties were third-class passengers, second- and first-class lives were also lost; proving that death does not discriminate.

You have two chances to check out this powerful show and if the packed house I witnessed was any indication, you’d better hurry to get your tickets for one of the two remaining performances:

  • Friday, September 22                    8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 23               8:00 p.m.

Tickets for all shows are $22 ($20 on Sundays for students and Seniors). Call 248-608-9077 for tickets or order online at Group rates are available by calling the box office. “Like” Avon Players Theatre on Facebook for special offers on tickets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. All seats are reserved.

And mark your calendars now for these upcoming shows:

A Christmas Story:  November 24 – 26, December 1 – 3, and 8 – 9

Boeing Boeing:  January 19 – 21, 26 – 28, and February 2 – 3

Dial “M” for Murder:  March 9 – 11, 16 – 18, and 23 – 24

The Bridges of Madison County:  May 18 – 20, 25 – 27, and June 1 – 2

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at


  1. Michael Fraley says

    Thanks for the review!

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