GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - The horn from the Titanic blows, a sound not heard for 87 years, as the long journey begins. A star-studded cast revitalizes the dramatic moments we all seem unable to forget from our history classes and dramatizations on the screen.
But this is not a Jack and Rose centered story; this is the re-telling of history through the eyes of sea dog Captain Edward J. Smith, portrayed by operatic baritone Brandon Hendrickson. J. Bruce Ismay, the man whose best intentions to have the fastest ship in the sea are regrettably mixed with a slice of cynicism, is devilishly portrayed by Timothy McDevitt. A whole host of characters also stands out individually, each vital to the telling of this story.
This is a production with as much pomp and circumstance as a national touring company. The 65-member cast delivers an emotional performance that can easily move a person to tears. We all know how this ends, but the music that delivered a Tony award to the original production will make your heart pound out of your chest as tragedy in the form of an iceberg strikes the Titanic, and the passengers and crew struggle to find a worthy solution.
Veteran singer Tony Mowatt delivers a powerful performance as ship designer Thomas Andrews throughout the production, but he shines at his brightest during “Mr. Andrews’ Vision,” a powerful song made even better with the visual production value that will make even the most abstracted person stop and take in the story.
One of the best niche moments of this production is the duet “Still” by Ida and Isidor Straus, portrayed by Ruth Bartholomew and Chris Collins respectively. As many families are forced to say their final goodbyes, this couple of 40 years renews their love for one another. It’s a touching moment that really shines in Act II.
The headline for "Titanic" is always the ending, but the entire first act is rich with whimsy, humor, infatuation and intrigue as passengers and crew make their way aboard the largest moving object on the planet.
We see delightful moments in a 2nd Class passenger married couple who somehow stay together despite the wife yearning to be with the upper class, and another couple whose wide eyes remind us all of the young, innocent feeling we have when we fall in love with our soulmates.
And then there’s Kate McGown, the 3rd Class Irish passenger portrayed by New York City-based actor Caitlin Mesiano. Her witty, fast and often brash personality shines as she seeks a husband before the maiden voyage’s end.
Another well-deserved nod goes to first class bedroom steward Henry Etches, portrayed by Jeffrey Stegall, and band leader Wallace Hartley, portrayed by BJU student Jason Holland, for delivering unforgettable performances that made us laugh and smile in the face of danger.
The overall production is a masterpiece with very few flaws. Some performers were better than others and the follow spot operator couldn’t always find their mark, but these are negligible when taking in the performance as a whole.
It would seem the entire university came together to pull this off, with months or even years in the planning. This is the first time this show has been done in the state of South Carolina, according to BJU. The production is anchored by six professional performers in title roles, but the other 61 players are BJU students, staff and alumni who make the performance possible. And who could forget the powerful score brought to life by the 26-person orchestra under the direction of Dr. Michael Moore?
If you have a chance to see the performance, take it. The final performance is at 8 p.m. on March 16 in Rodeheaver Auditorium.
Artifacts from the Titanic Museum will be on display in Rodeheaver Lobby until March 18.