Saturday, April 17, 2010

Titanic 2 of 2

On the Atlantic (sailing close to the remains of Titanic)

I first crossed this wicked ocean on a troopship in 1958. My wife and I have traversed it numerous times since, during the next half century. And each time, on each trip, when we pass reasonably close to those unmarked sepulchres, one can almost hear again that simple piece of music which some called Autumn. For when at sea, one cannot help but hear the sounds of yesteryear, listen to the voices of those who have crossed before, and to think of the ships now gone to that neverland into which aging ships pass.

The waters of reverie do not come with proper charts. I was a child of the Great Depression and in those days our parents discussed Titanic in general conversation, spoke of the Morro Castle, and my father, being a New Yorker, talked often about the General Slocum. So peril at sea and on other waterways was part of our world. (As our uncles learned, in the 1940s while travelling in khaki aboard the great Queens.)

I later learned about Titanic in the relatively dry surroundings of Bronx movie houses. The first I remember was the Negulesco / Stanwyck film (with the great Thelma Ritter) and some others which used a Titanic-like motif (e.g., History is Made at Night). A few years later came the Walter Lord book and its filmed manifestation: the excellent A Night to Remember. A spate of books (and television versions) carried us through the next decades until 1995 when Titanic surfaced on Broadway in a very good musical: Titanic.

The public memory of the play has been somewhat swamped by the later film spectacle of 1997, on which I shall refrain from comment. Like the controversial Captain Lord of the Californian, I will ignore the rockets glare from that aberration and return to my slumber at sea.

Titanic (the musical) played at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway from April 1997 through March 1999. It ran through 804 performances. I saw it first alone and then, a second time, with my wife. We were both quite taken with it -- and moved by it. I have further thoughts on the big ship, but those are for another crossing.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Gerald,

    I did not realize the musical preceded the James Cameron 1997 film. How interesting. It sounds rather enjoyable.