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The Suburbanite
  • Voices of Canton to perform ‘Titanic: The Musical’ as concert

  • Voices of Canton’s performances of “Titanic: The Musical” on June 2 and 3 will feature a cast of 70 and a 14-piece orchestra. This seems fitting for a show about an epic event — the luxury liner’s historic sinking 100 years ago.

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  • There’s going to be a very full stage next weekend at the historic Lions Lincoln Theatre in downtown Massillon.
    Voices of Canton’s performances of “Titanic: The Musical” on June 2 and 3 will feature a cast of 70 and a 14-piece orchestra. This seems fitting for a show about an epic event — the luxury liner’s historic sinking 100 years ago.
    Smartly, the show — which won the 1997 Tony Award for best musical during its Broadway run — is being performed as a concert version by Voices of Canton. While the entire cast will be in period costumes, no attempt is being made to convey the doomed ocean liner via scenery.
    “It is impossible to put the Titanic on-stage, it’s so huge,” artistic director Loren Veigel says. “The cinematic part of the show has got to happen inside the audiences’ heads.”
    What the audience can count on is “a tremendous amount of choral music,” Veigel says. “The show couldn’t be more perfect for a community choir. Our leads are spectacular, and I really think this chorus sounds better than the one on Broadway.”
    As “Titanic: The Musical” unfolds, about 40 characters are introduced, including the captain and designer of the ship, crew members, and passengers from first, second and third classes who range from the famous and ultra-rich, to middle-class social climbers to working-class Irish.
    The show’s opening, as passengers board this most magnificent ship ever, is celebratory. “It’s fabulous. It goes into everybody’s hopes and dreams for the voyage,” Veigel says. “Of course, no one has any idea what is coming.” At the end of the first act, the Titanic strikes the iceberg.
    As Act 2 builds to its climax, the show becomes extremely emotional. An elderly woman declines to board a lifeboat without her husband, a little boy says goodbye to his wealthy father. “There are people in the chorus who are still not making it through certain scenes (at rehearsal) without breaking down,” Veigel says. “The other night I looked around and there were tears everywhere.”
    Chris Pfendler, who plays E.J. Smith, captain of the doomed ship, says, “ ‘Titanic’ is a musical but it’s not ‘Oklahoma!’ It’s more in line with shows like ‘Les Miz.’ There’s entertainment and comic relief, but the story is told in a way that people will be moved.”
    Pfendler, who joined Voices of Canton three years ago, promises that, “Some of the musical pieces will knock people off their seats. A lot of our voices are showcased extremely well and there’s these big chorus numbers. Music is used to amp up the emotions.”
    Longtime chorus member Terry Everett plays an amusing Titanic passenger named Alice Beane. “Her husband wants to show her the world, and she’s a social person who likes to be around wealthy people,” Everett says. “She’s the type who nowadays would be reading all the (celebrity) rag mags. She’s second-class but wants to be first-class.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “The show has every different type of music,” she says. “There’s Gilbert & Sullivan-type songs, beautiful dramatic music, some silly songs and lots of big chorus, which is the biggest reason we chose to do it.”