Augustana College Department of Theatre Arts will present"Titanic: the Musical" April 28-30 and May 5-7.
With music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (“Nine” and “Grand Hotel”), and based on the book by Peter Stone (“Curtains” and “1776”), "Titanic: the Musical" opened on Broadway in 1997, winning five Tony Awards®.
On the RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York, the ocean liner collided with an iceberg and “the unsinkable ship” slowly sank. This stunning musical focuses on the hopes and aspirations of characters based on actual people aboard the Titanic, unaware of their fate.
“Titanic: the Musical” will feature Augustana alumni Erin (McBride ’92) Platt as director, Ron May ’74 as music director, Susan Holgersson ’76 as set designer, Jon Schrader ’93 as Ismay, Nate Karsten ’07 as Strauss/Hitchens, and John Whitson ’16 as Lightoller/Astor. Percussionist Mitchell Carter ’14, violinist Karen Neder ’85 (daughter of a former dean of the college) and cellist Michael Wahlmann ’95 join the pit orchestra. This provides an opportunity for current students to interact with successful and inspirational Augustana alumni.
According to Platt, “The music is the star of the show. Listening to these stories, we see a lot of parallels with our world today—the societal structure of the time, immigrants coming to America to make a better life for themselves, the idea that money talks.”
Platt speaks fondly of her time at Augustana and the opportunities her liberal arts education afforded her. “It’s nice to come back and connect with the institution,” she said. “It’s very exciting to see the changes that are happening here.”
She offers the following advice to current and prospective students: “Take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. If there is something that you have always found interesting, give it a try. That is the beauty of Augustana, you can be as involved or as specialized as you want. By being involved in a variety of activities you are exposed to a variety of diverse people and ideas, and that will help you in not just creative fields but in all facets of life.”
Platt and music director Ron May ’74 have worked on countless productions during their time collaborating at Moline High School and elsewhere in the Quad-Cities area. As alumni of the college, they are thrilled to be working with other alumni and current students to produce this big musical.
The directors are not the only ones who are heavily involved with the arts in our community. Susan Holgersson ’76 has designed dozens of works for playhouses, museums and other projects. Jon Schrader ’93 has performed all around the Quad-Cities region and the Midwest, in operas, musicals and operetta, specializing in Gilbert and Sullivan.
More recent alumni Mitchell Carter ’14 and John Whitson ’16 both teach at local schools. Mitchell currently instructs band and individual private lessons at Frank L. Smart Intermediate School. John instructs voice at Durant Community Schools and sings in Quad City Choral Arts, under the direction of Dr. Jon Hurty. He is looking forward to performing the role of Tony in the Quad City Music Guild’s production of "West Side Story" this summer. Nate Karsten ’07 is also a member of Quad City Choral Arts.
This collaboration of active and influential alumni and current students is sure to bring audiences to their feet. Dramaturg Maissie Musick ’18 said, “the playwright and composer were able to complete a piece with sharp dialogue that manages to leave the audience in awe, despite their knowledge of the historical ending.”
Public performances will be in the Brunner Main Stage Theatre, Brunner Theatre Center, April 28-29 and May 7-8 at 7:30 p.m. and April 30 and May 7 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 for the general public; $12 for senior citizens, students, Augustana faculty and staff, and children ages 12 and under; and $8 for Augustana students. Tickets can be purchased through the Augustana Ticket Office, calling (309) 794-7306, or by coming into the ticket office in Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts.
Connor Kealey, manager of performance tours and arts promotion, 309-794-7323