Researching Titanic the Musical

On October 9, Professor Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre held a roundtable for honors students to present the research she had done in preparation for directing the Colonial Theatre’s production of the musical Titanic, which was presented on campus from November 12 to 16. While the iconic James Cameron film is generally what most people first think of when they hear the name of that infamous ship, Professor Burgess-Lefebvre was quick to mention at the start of her presentation that the musical was not based on the movie. In fact, the original production of Titanic opened on Broadway several months before Cameron’s film of the same name was even released.

Once that fact had been established, Professor Burgess-Lefebvre went on to mention that all of the named characters in the musical were based on actual people who had been on the ship. She discussed the ways in which that facilitated her research and how it assisted her in bringing their stories to life on stage. For the sake of authenticity, she incorporated what she had learned about those individuals into the way she directed her cast.

Beyond the characters, Burgess-Lefebvre also spoke to all of the other research she had done to get her mind into the world of the show. She discussed the statistics of the ship’s build and also the approximate timeline of its sinking. Various anecdotes and conspiracies as to what actually transpired on the Titanic in its final hours were mentioned as well.

All in all, Professor Burgess-Lefebvre’s presentation was incredibly interesting and informative. Having had the chance to attend a performance of the show a month later, her roundtable certainly gave me a greater appreciation for what I saw on stage.

Robert Dougher



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