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BSC and U-Mary partner to bring ‘Titanic' to the stage

Posted on 2/28/2012

'Titanic' poster
Bismarck State College embarks on its first theatrical collaboration with the University of Mary in the March 8-11 production of "Titanic" with a combined cast and crew and music direction by the U-Mary Music Department.

Performances of the musical are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Belle Mehus City Auditorium, downtown Bismarck.

Like the emblematic Titanic ship, everything about this production is big from the 30 scenic units and 38-member cast to the 50 other technical crew and musicians and support of uncounted faculty and staff.

Keeping it all organized is director and choreographer Erin Drevlow and co-producers Dan Rogers, BSC associate professor of theatre/speech, and Beverly Huschka, associate professor of communication at University of Mary.

Drevlow graduated from BSC and University of Minnesota and is a current BSC instructor and U-Mary graduate student. Dean Bellin, BSC assistant professor of technical theatre, is tasked with building the set with an army of students in BSC's Sidney J. Lee Auditorium. His team includes student stage manager Chelsea Brown of Bismarck and assistant stage managers Kirsten Frederick and Kelly Feigitch of Mandan.

" ‘Titanic' is a beautiful musical about one of the most tragic moments in history," Drevlow said. "The amount of lives lost and the arrogance behind their loss is staggering. In this production, we are focusing on the immense variety of people aboard that ship."

Based on the famous sinking of the RMS Titanic ocean liner on its maiden voyage April 15, 1912, "Titanic" examines the causes, conditions and characters involved in this tragic drama. Peter Stone, who wrote the musical's story and book, said of the 1997 Broadway production: "This is the factual story of that ship [officers, crew and passengers], but the Titanic does not serve as mere background where narratives are recounted. The central character of our Titanic is the Titanic herself."

"Titanic" begins with ship architect Thomas Andrews poring over his blueprints as the curtain rises to reveal the embarkation dock at Southampton, England. People are gathering to wonder at and to board the ship. Once on the north Atlantic, they come forward one-by-one to speak their dreams and aspirations as the 2,228 crew and passengers sail on to disaster and death. Only 711 survive.

However, the story steadfastly focuses on hope, Drevlow said - "the hope that there will be a better life in America, the hope that they will survive, and the hope that they will all meet again."

The show's lauded musical score and vocals are under the direction of Thomas Porter. Porter, now with University of Mary and chair of its Music Department, helped grow the BSC Music program as a professor of music. Colleague Dennis Gowen, director of bands and brass studies, conducts the 16-piece orchestra of U-Mary musicians.

Students portraying major roles in the production are Clayton Perala (BSC-Fargo) as ship architect Thomas Andrews; Joshua Johnson (U-Mary-Bismarck) as Titanic owner Bruce Ismay; Taylor Abler (U-Mary-Mayville) as the ship's Captain Smith; Alex Johnson (BSC-Torrance, Calif.) as radioman Harold Bride; Craig Goettle (U-Mary-Kenmare) as stoker Frederick Barrett; John Kassner (U-Mary-Miles City, Mont.) as passenger Jim Farrell; and Taylor Hougum-Carr (BSC-Hazen) as passenger Kate McGowan.

Other cast members from BSC: Charley Conner, Ashley Clooten, Shaylee Meyer, Dakota Stein, Marete Snortland-Banks, Brandon Wetch, Mercer Sage and Lacey Schouweiler, Bismarck; Shaina Hovrud and Derek Pich, Mandan; Leland Davenport, Wilton; Cassie Ash, Beulah; Brittany Kuhn, Gladstone; and Derek Harper, New London, Texas. Non-students in the cast are Jeff Jung and Mark Gray, Mandan; Reilly Hedegaard, Bismarck; and Charles Ward, Richardton.

Other cast members from U-Mary: Sarah Porter and Brittany Bearsheart, Bismarck; Paul Trauger Jr., Mandan; Nikkita Starr, Beulah; Mary Rose Golik and Christian Rodakowski, Dickinson; Grant Krebs, Jamestown; Mark Baumgartner, Strasburg; Theresa Mack, Rugby; Jeremy Hudson, Great Falls, Mont.; Leven Zuelke, Miles City, Mont.; Bailey Newland, Harlowton, Mont.; and Nathaniel Blake, Boise, Idaho.

Orchestra members are Kirsten Bakke and Erica Belverstone, Bismarck; Jake Perry, Dylan Boyd and Remmington Wanner, Mandan; Sami Breiland, David Sorenson, James Taverna, Chelsey Grad, and Daniel Bickler, Williston; Michelle Kramer, Fargo; Krystal Laskowske, Grafton; Elizabeth Mack, Rugby; Kyle Hasse, Roseville, Minn.; and Rhonda Gowen and Jan Candee, U-Mary music faculty.

Tickets are available at both the BSC and U-Mary campuses and at the U-Mary Butler Center. All tickets are general admission: $10 for the general public and $5 for students and employees of BSC and U-Mary. To purchase tickets by credit card, call the BSC box office at 224-5511 or the U-Mary Butler Center at 223-4260.

"Titanic" won five Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Musical Score, Best Orchestrations and Best Scenic Design. It also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestration, and tied for two Outer Critics Circle Awards in Set Design and Lighting Design. "Titanic" opened on Broadway March 29, 1997, and played for 804 performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City. The wardrobe is on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Fla.

About Bismarck State College
Bismarck State College, an innovative community college in Bismarck, N.D., offers high quality education, workforce training, and enrichment programs reaching local and global communities.

About University of Mary
The University of Mary was founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation and is the state's only private, Catholic university. Programs are offered at 18 sites in six states, through the University of Mary Centers for Accelerated and Distance Education, as well as the new campus in Rome, Italy. Mary offers undergraduate degrees in 53 majors, eight master's degrees, and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, as well as 16 varsity sports to its students. For more information, visit www.umary.edu.

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