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     "Think Unsinkable"

New York Magazine, April 14, 1997

by Alexandra Lange

Could "Titanic"-- the musical, not the miniseries, documentary, or James Cameron blockbuster-- actually be good? It's hard to believe. But a veteran of surprise hits, Michael Cerveris (a k.a Tommy in "The Who's Tommy"), promises that the ultimate disaster has turned into a triumph. "It has everything," he says, looking vaguely piratical with his shaved head and seven earrings. "It has love stories, drama and terror, and a surprising amount of comedy." Plus a selling point for the "Twister" audience: "You don't have to worry about following the plot, because you know it before you come."

With such details taken care of, one is free to follow the human-scale drama of millionaire, immigrant, and stoker as each is swept toward the awesome, if predictable, finale with all the "big scenic elements rising and tilting" as Cerveris delicately puts it.

The center of the epic drama is himself, who plays the Titanic's designer, Thomas Andrews.
As the embodiment of the ship, and resident visionary, Andrews gets maximum audience
sympathy when his masterpiece sinks." Andrews is that guy that if he were alive when
the pyramids were built, he would have designed the pyramids," says Cerveris.
"If he were alive today he would work at NASA."

And yet Andrew's biggest number-- aside from the opening paean to the ship herself,
"In Every Age"-- is the downbeat song "The Blame," in which designer, owner,
and captain meet in the sinking radio room to assess the damage. Apparently, the cast
and crew developed some serious identification with the wreck: Director Richard
Jones decided the real villain was not human incompetence but the iceberg, which the
audience never sees. "he said," Cerveris recalls, "'I don't want the murderer to ever
appear onstage.'"


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