| go to lobby page | more reviews | go to other departments |



By Glenn Loney, May 31, 2002

Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney
by Sam Norkin.
[01] Jerry Herman Wins American Musical Theatre Award
[02] TUTS & Gala Hobby Center Opening
[03] Houston Performing Arts Not a Hobby
[04] Can Houston Become a Destination?
[05] Great Ship Titanic in Houston
[06] The Original Hamburg Titanic Exhibition

You can use your browser's "find" function to skip to articles on any of these topics instead of scrolling down. Click the "FIND" button or drop down the "EDIT" menu and choose "FIND."

How to contact Glenn Loney: Please email invitations and personal correspondences to Mr. Loney via Editor, New York Theatre Wire. Do not send faxes regarding such matters to The Everett Collection, which is only responsible for making Loney's INFOTOGRAPHY photo-images available for commercial and editorial uses.

How to purchase rights to photos by Glenn Loney: For editorial and commercial uses of the Glenn Loney INFOTOGRAPHY/ArtsArchive of international photo-images, contact THE EVERETT COLLECTION, 104 West 27th Street, NYC 10010. Phone: 212-255-8610/FAX: 212-255-8612.

For archival versions of Glenn Loney's past columns, please try our internal search engine.

Out-of-Town Adventures:

Performing Arts & Theme Parks
In Texas, Nevada, & Florida

The Merry Month of May seemed a good time to get out of town and check up on some entertainments farther afield. So your ever vigilant reporter packed his carry-on case and flew off to Florida, Texas, and Nevada.

Once all the various New York theatre-award nominations have been made-and the votes cast and counted-there is not much to keep a performing-arts scribe in Manhattan. Few important new shows ever open after the Tony Nominations are announced, for instance.

And the official Broadway Season has traditionally ended on 31 May. But in recent years-as also in London's West End-some big shows have opened in the summer months, hoping to lure tourists.

Houston's TUTS Opens a New Home:

HOUSTON POST-MODERNISM--New 2,650-seat Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Yale University's Dean of Architecture, Robert A. M. Stern. Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.

Theatre Under the Stars Stages Glamorous Gala:
Jerry Herman Wins American Musical Theatre Award!

Most Americans who would like to see President George Bush up close have to settle for his image on television.

On 18 May, however, the Movers & Shakers of Houston Society-plus your reporter-were privileged to share a memorable theatre-gala with the Original: President George Herbert Walker Bush. And with the ever-popular Barbara Bush, looking splendid in an electric-blue gown.

This very special occasion was not only the Inaugural Evening of the handsome new Hobby Center for the Performing Arts-co-chaired by the Bushes-but also the inauguration of the American Musical Theatre Awards.

Composer/lyricist Jerry Herman was the first distinctively American musical-theatre talent to be so honored.

This could have had something to do with his being Available, I wondered. Not at all: Jerry Herman's many musicals have proved popular in Houston, both on tour and in revival.

But Herman did far more than merely accept the impressive award.

Following solos and production-numbers featuring some of his stars in memorable songs from major Broadway shows, Herman himself genially obliged at the keyboard and vocalized. This charming award-encore brought the entire black-tie audience to its feet.

Among the stellar talents honoring Herman and Theatre Under the Stars were Lucie Arnaz, Jo Anne Worley, Hugh Panaro, Karen Morrow, Nancy Dussault, & Davis Gaines.

Karen Morrow recalled Herman's beloved musical Mame with "It's Today," "We Need a Little Christmas," and "If He Walked into My Life." Jo Anne Worley-a TUTS as well as a Broadway star-recalled three Herman shows in solos: Mack & Mabel, La Cage aux Folles, & Hello, Dolly!

Nancy Dussault provided a dynamic rendition of "Where in the World," from Miss Spectacular. Lucie Arnaz offered a plaintive "Wherever He Ain't," from Mack & Mabel.

Ron Abel conducted TUTS' Broadway-caliber orchestra, with deft choreography from Lee Martino and staging by David Galligan.

Hearing again some of Herman's great Broadway songs, I was reminded of my first encounter with his antic talents. Long long ago, way down in Greenwich Village-was it at the Bon Soir or the Provincetown Playhouse?-Jerry was at the keyboard for his charming little revue, Parade.

What I remember more than his songs, however, was the Running-Gag of how some movie-stars got their names. A skyscraper construction foreman was giving orders to his men: "Sunday, lay out the girders. Monday, set 'em up. Tuesday, weld."

A girl standing nearby yelped: "TUESDAY WELD! That's IT!"

Seated at a diner-counter, a sexy young woman ordered a sandwich: "Ham with mayonaise, please."

The counter-man shouted the order: "Virginia, mayo!"

Well, you get the idea… Jerry Herman was always full of jokes, fun, and great show-biz ideas…
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT--Sol LeWitt's Hobby Center mural evokes nearby Buffalo Bayou. Photo: ©Glenn Loney

The gala performance was preceded by a sumptuous gourmet dinner on three levels of the spacious theatre-lobby, dominated by an immense Sol LeWitt mural.

Formally-clad guests debarked from their limos and SUVs to be greeted by characters from past, present, and future TUTS musicals. Liza Doolittle/Audrey Hepburn escorted some delighted Houston CEOs into the theatre. As did Zorro some of the lovely Texas ladies.

Dolly Levi offered me her matchmaker's card. We talked about theatre in Houston and on Broadway-as I was amazed to discover the quality and quantity of the burgeoning performing arts scene there.

I told her I recognized Annie and Dorothy, and many another musical-comedy character outside on the esplanade, awaiting new arrivals. But who were those chorus-girls on roller-skates?

Dolly reminded me of a show I had not seen for decades: Funny Girl, which premiered at Broadway's Winter Garden. Barbra Streisand on skates! How time flies…

TUTS & Hundred-Million-Dollar Hobby Theatre-

PERFORMING ARTS MORE THAN A HOUSTON HOBBY--New Center to be home of TUTS/Theatre Under the Stars. Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
It's an amazing testimony to the artistic and persuasive talents of Frank Young-founder of TUTS-that his fellow Houstonians helped him raise $100,000 for the construction and outfitting of what may soon become America's Premiere Music Theatre.

Anyone who is determined to build a new 2,650-seat musical theatre in times like these-even in New York-has to be an Incurable Optimist.

But, as Young reminded his patrons, subscribers, and friends, the Hobby Center is the fulfillment of a longtime dream. TUTS began some 35 years ago, literally Under the Stars, in the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park-near an amazing complex of museums.

TUTS still offers free summer musicals in the Miller Theatre, in fact. It is one of America's largest producers of non-profit musical theatre. In the course of 34 years, it has mounted 41 outdoor musicals.

More than that, however, TUTS has produced some 240 musicals in Houston and Seattle. Including many local, national, and world premieres!

Thanks to the imagination of Hobby Center architect Robert A. M. Stern, TUTS productions will still be under the stars. And not just metaphorically…

The great oval dome of the vast auditorium is studded with twinkling stars and a broad swath of the Milky Way! There are some 2,000 fiber-optic lights up there.

As we filed down the spacious aisles-the seating is advantageously raked, so every spectator has a clear view-many looked up and gasped in surprise and pleasure at the starry firmament.

I was moved to remark that the stars at night are big and bright. "Deep in the Heart of Texas!" a laughing lady added.

The exterior of the monumental new Hobby Center seems a Post-Modernist evocation of 1950s Modernism-with a nod to the Memphis design-aesthetic of Ettore Sottsass.

President Bush paid tribute to Robert Stern's genius in designing the new theatre, noting that they are both Yale Men! Stern is currently Dean of Yale's School of Architecture.

He is also involved with the Theme-Park fortunes of Disney, having designed some major buildings in Orlando and Anaheim.

Speaking of Disney, its CEO, Michael Eisner, was among the BIG Name Guests. Eisner is a big fan of Frank Young and his TUTS productions. In fact, he would have premiered The Lion King in Houston, had the Hobby Center then existed.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast-currently on Broadway-originated with TUTS in Houston.
TUTS' TOP SIX SHOWS--Tony Curtis stars in Some Like It Hot-but not in drag.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney

The grayly handsome Tony Curtis will star in TUTS' world premiere of the new stage-musical version of the beloved Billy Wilder film, Some Like It Hot.

Curtis won't be cross-dressing in this show, however. He's playing the Joe E. Brown movie-role of Osgood Fielding III instead.

This musical-with a revised libretto by Peter Stone-will feature five new songs by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill.

Some Like It Hot opens on 6 June for a short run. After a summer under the stars, the Hobby Center TUTS musical season continues with another world premiere: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? This opens on 10 October.

This production will be followed, in due course, by The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, & Kiss Me, Kate.

Because the Hobby Center's Serofim Theatre is so large, most shows run only about two weeks. So musical theatre fans beyond the Texas borders need to plan well ahead. Call TUTS at 713-558-8887 for information and tickets.

To further support the production and the future of American Musical Theatre, TUTS also operates the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. More than a thousand students-from kids to adults-take classes and perform annually.

Houston Performing Arts Not a Hobby-

AT HOME IN THE ALLEY--Handsome setting for Alan Ayckbourn's House, in Alley Theatre's House & Garden production. Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.

America's Fourth Largest City
Second Only to Broadway in Theatre-Seats!

The new Hobby Center is only one of a number of impressive performing-arts venues in Downtown Houston. Combined, they have a total seating-capacity of 16,098!

The new Hobby Center stands on the site of the former Music Hall. But touring musicals are also produced on the stage of Jones Hall-which is really the home of the much-admired Houston Symphony. Lincoln Center's Contact is coming soon to the Jones.

This is programmed by Broadway in Houston, which will also offer touring versions of Disney's Lion King and Beauty and the Beast on the Jones Hall stage during the summer.

I was fortunate to hear Music Director Hans Graf conduct the Houston Symphony in the excellent acoustics of Jones Hall. I already knew his own excellences as a conductor from the Munich and Salzburg Festivals. Andre Watts was also impressive, powerfully interpreting Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor.

Unfortunately, the Houston Grand Opera was between productions at the massive Post-Modernist Wortham Theatre Center. They had recently mounted the Bregenz Festival co-production of Steinbeck/Floyd's Of Mice and Men. On which I reported last fall.
CELESTIAL CELLIST--Musical sculpture by Wortham Center, home of Houston Grand Opera & Houston Ballet. Photo: ©Glenn Loney

But the Houston Ballet was soon to unveil at the Wortham a Natalie Wier world premiere, programmed with George Balanchine's Serenade and Lila York's Rules of the Game. The admired Ben Stevenson-O. B. E., no less!-is Artistic Director of the Ballet.

The Wortham must be the only opera-house in the world with a major highway running through it!

Although Houston now has a number of small theatre ensembles, it has won pride of place among America's leading regional companies with the Alley Theatre, founded by Nina Vance. The Alley's resourceful Managing Director is Paul R. Tetreault.

Although the company was between shows, I was able to see the handsome setting for one of the Alan Ayckbourn double-bill dramas, House & Garden, which had just closed. They required both the Neuhaus Arena Stage and the Alley's Large Stage, playing simultaneously. [These plays are currently on view at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York.]

Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love was in rehearsal. I wasn't able to look at the set as production photography was in process. But Paul-who was a Performing Arts Management student of mine at Brooklyn College-and his associates were able to show me the impressive improvements which had been made to the Alley Theatre complex in the wake of the disastrous Hurricane Allison.

The Alley is built like a concrete fortress-even with battlement towers-but the vicious storm hit it much lower down. Actually, the entire theatre-district is built over Buffalo Bayou-which has now been tamed and landscaped into an almost Venetian waterway.

In addition to an open arena for pop concerts-bordered by Jones Hall and the Alley-there's a new Bayou Place complex on the arena's third side. This includes an Angelika Film Center, with programming similar to New York's version.
SHOWS ABOVE THE FORMER SWAMPS--Angelika Cinema & Verizon Wireless Theatre are mainstays of new Bayou Place. Photo: ©Glenn Loney.

It also features some good restaurants, a Hard Rock Cafe, and the large industrial-style Verizon Wireless Theatre. This was the very appropriate venue for a stimulating American Horizons concert, conducted by John Neal Axelrod and his dynamic young Orchestra X.

This interesting ensemble specializes in unusual programs of new music and classics, in various Houston venues. As well as in the schools-for Axelrod knows very well where future audiences for serious classical and modern music must be developed.

Among Orchestra X's offerings was a performance of John Adams' The Chairman Dances, from Nixon in China. The Weave Dance Company provided a world premiere choreography for the piece.

Anthony K. Brandt premiered his Express for Orchestra, while Derek Menchan saluted Duke Ellington with Standard Shifts, also an Orchestra X commission.

In the interval, Superman appeared on two projection-screens, saving Metropolis-and Lois Lane-from the dangers of an out-of-control Monster Magnet. This was the prelude to Michael Daugherty's Metropolis Symphony. Among its movements-Lex, Krypton, Myzxyptlyk, & Oh, Lois!

"E" IS FOR ENRON--Logo of Houston's most infamous energy industry remains untarnished.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.

Can Houston Become a DESTINATION?

It's clear that leading Houstonians-and not just those involved in the Performing Arts-would like to welcome a national and even an international audience to its many theatres, museums, sports-arenas, parks, hotels, and shopping.

Apparently, wealthy Mexicans are frequent flyers to George Bush International Airport. But Downtown Houston is not currently overrun with tourists from New York, Chicago, or points West.

Considering the world-class productions and events Houston can offer, this seems a loss. Especially with so many seats to fill!

What used to be Enron Stadium has no problem filling its seats-even with that fatal name erased from all signs and plaques at the stadium. It's currently Astro Stadium until some energy-based heavy-hitter makes the high bid for sponsorship.

Unfortunately, Downtown Houston is currently not Tourist-Friendly. Aside from its Temples of Performing Arts, it consists largely of immense Post-Modernist high-rises, housing world-famous oil and energy synergies.

Beneath these powerful towers of commerce are numerous complicated tunnel-systems, linking buildings and protecting office-workers from hot summer suns and inclement winters. These are flanked by restaurants, delis, and service shops, most of which are open only from 11 am to 4 pm, to accommodate noontime diners.
DAZZLING STEEL & GLASS TOWERS OF POWER--Houston's Post-Modernist High-Rises are among America's most innovative.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney

I discovered the tunnels only because I had run out of film-Downtown is Very Photogenic!-and there was no Walgreens, Duane Reed, or K-Mart in sight.

Actually, one could call Downtown Houston the City Of High-Rise Parking Lots. Super-highways download into its broad avenues, and thousands of autos and vans have to be accommodated until offices close.

At which time, almost all humans vanish from the streets. Theatre-goers have to drive in from Suburbia-and the parking in these great Post-Modernist Garages is not cheap.

True, there are some San Francisco cable-cars on rubber tires making Downtown circuits, but they seemed often empty.

The amazing concentration of Houston museums is some distance from Downtown. There will be a rapid-rail link between these two centers-but not until 2005. Meanwhile Main Street is torn up, with piles of rails just lying beside it.

Taxis to the museums from Downtown hotels are costly. And my driver didn't even know where Hermann Circle and the Museum of Natural Science were located.

Why can't the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce take one of those Metro Trolley cable-cars and run it every half-hour from major hotels Downtown to the museums? And back, of course…

For that matter, if you didn't really want to see Woody Allen at the Angelika, you'd have to take another long & expensive taxi-ride to some mall to find a cineplex. So I still have not seen Spiderman or Scorpion King.

When you fly into the Houston area, from the air you can see what look like three separate High Rise Cities, linked by low-level houses and shops. Where were the City Planners before all this happened?
HOUSTON'S PAST & FUTURE--The Historic stands in the shadow of the multi-story New. Photo: ©Glenn Loney

And where are they now, if Houston really wants to become an International Destination? At least for the Arts, both stationary and performing…

There's no problem about attracting executives and other corporate types, as so many major oil and energy companies are sited Downtown. And business and professional people come from afar for conferences and exhibitions in its immense Convention Center-soon to be even more mammoth.

The local key to solving the Tourist Problem-at least for those who want to come for the arts and not for protesting outside the handsome Enron Building-seems to be the completion of a new and mammoth Hilton Hotel by the Convention Center.

Local experts assured me this hotel and the new Main Street rail-link will finally make Houston the Destination it longs to become.

But why wait for 2005? Buy some more trolley-buses to link Downtown with Museums, Multilplexes, Walgreens, and Parks NOW!

TITANIC Washed Ashore in Houston!

When I recently passed through St. Louis after the Humana Festival in Louisville, there wasn't time enough to see the touring Titanic exhibition. Fortunately-after travels to Orlando/Disney and Reno-I caught its opening in Houston.

Actually, I had seen the original and much larger show several years ago in Hamburg-and reported on it for our Museum website-so this was something of a surprise.

It is called Titanic-The Artifact Exhibit. Along with large-scale black & white photos and wall-texts, it features various articles and shards brought up from the dark ocean floor where the great broken wreck is being slowly devoured by micro-organisms which can eat metal.

I was greeted at the entrance-and handed a First Class sailing-ticket-by an impressive white-bearded naval-officer in full uniform. He informed me he was Captain of the Titanic, but I could call him E. J.

He noted that there are in fact several touring Titanic artifact-exhibits. E. J. asked if I'd seen the one in Orlando-which I had no time to see, alas. It is apparently state-of-the-art.
NOT THE REAL SHIP--Titanic Artifacts on view at Houston Museum of Natural Science. Photo: ©Glenn Loney/ INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.

You do not have to see every spoon or plate brought up from the ocean-floor to experience a sense of that terrible disaster: "It was sad when that great ship went down to the bottom…" as the old "Peoples' Song" runs. "Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives…"

I still think it would have been a good idea in Hamburg Harbor to create a dry-land Titanic Hotel in one of its 300-year-old brick dockside warehouses. Guests could dress for dinner with Molly Brown, come down the Grand Staircase, and have twelve-course meals off the finest of china. With no fear of sinking below the waves at night…

That magnificent artifact exhibit-so theatrically designed-could have run forever. With the movie and the Broadway musical in an adjoining ancient harbor warehouse. After all, Cats seems to be running forever there…For more information about the original and totally titantic TITANIC EXHIBITION, see below:


From the NY Museum Archives:

BACTERIA DEVOUR TITANIC WRECK--Model of doomed ocean-liner, shown in Hamburg & Houston.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.

The Original Hamburg Titanic Exhibition!

There is another great show with music about the doomed liner Titanic now on view. But it's not in New York. If you want to experience the Sinking of the Titanic, you don't have to wait weeks for Broadway tickets. Just take a plane to the North German port city of Hamburg.

Expedition Titanic is not a stage-presentation, but it is in fact ingeniously staged and presented. It suggests a new and exciting way for museums and art-galleries to display their collections and to attract new viewers.

All too often, museum curators will crowd glass-cases with scores of luster pitchers, flintlock pistols, or Etruscan figurines. Visual Overkill. Nothing really stands out in the cases. There is simply too much to look at-and too much is alike. Nor are the treasures shown in the context of their time, place, use, and significance.

This huge Titanic show avoids such pitfalls and has, as a result, been attracting thousands daily. It is not a knock-off of the hit musical on view in New York. Instead, it is a most unusual exhibition of hundreds of artifacts recovered from the great ship's massive wreck, presented in a theatrical environment.

In effect, the hordes of spectators who have been visiting Voyager Titanic-another name for the show-have the simulated experience of boarding the doomed ship and almost going down with it.

Installed in an ancient brick harborside warehouse, this fascinating show profits from its watery environment. It is approached by bridges over harbor canals, and the historic venue itself stands on a canal.

Both in front and on the canal-side are giant reproductions of the Titanic under construction. Its huge propellers, its immense boilers for once take on something approaching their real dimensions, although only in vintage photographs.

A "gangway" leads to the ground-floor ticket-counter and a restaurant which has been constructed to recall a real dining-salon on the Titanic. Heaps of old suitcases and crates of supplies suggest loading for a major voyage. Even the cloakroom evokes dockside baggage-checking.

Visitors board the ship via gangway-stairs which take them outside the building and up into the second floor. Here are heaps of luggage from various westward Atlantic voyages in the Great Age of Immigration North America. And from the Era of Luxury Atlantic "Crossings."

This installation makes it clear that there were more people on board seeking new lives in America than there were of the Rich, Propertied, Powerful, and Established. In fact, the luxuries of First and Second Class were under-subscribed.

Voyager Titanic visitors meet-in photos and texts-the actual travelers on the Titanic's Maiden Voyage. All texts in the show are in both English and German. There are also recorded narrations and guided tours.

The entire second-floor level is divided into rooms of various sizes which recreate aspects of living on the great ship and the drama of its destruction. All these varied environments have been devised by stage-designers, with a view to making spectators feel "You Are There."

This is an idea that many museums could profit from, instead of merely displaying heaps of artifacts. There was, in fact, a Titanic Artifact Show in Memphis, but it did not dramatize the terrifying experience.

Some of the items rescued from the bottom of the ocean are small and simple: eyeglasses, cuff-links, dollar-bills, and other souvenirs of those who drowned. Dumped in a brightly-lit case, they would look ridiculous. But Expedition Titanic shows them in a completely dark space. Each item is seemingly in a void, illuminated by tiny fiber optics. Their significance is highlighted.

A piece of a bedpost from a First-Class Suite survived the erosions of time, salt, and bacteria which can digest even steel. That fragment and an old photo enabled the designers to reconstruct an actual bedroom suite.

This they have also done for Second Class and even for Third Class, or "Steerage" passengers: the doomed immigrants who drowned like the proverbial rats because they were locked in below decks.

Third Class on the Titanic was rather comfortable, even with double bunk-beds. It certainly looks more attractive than the accommodations on modern railway sleepers!

The Grand Stairway has been recreated in photo-blowup, as have the dining rooms for the three classes, complete with silver, crystal, and porcelain found in the wreck. On the Titanic, passengers ate well-and often. There were also staffs of hundreds to run the great ship and care for its passengers' needs and whims.

In one cool, haunting room, salvaged blue champagne bottles stand in a line, flanked by walls of icy blue water. The designers have allowed themselves some flights of fancy and symbolism.

The construction of the gigantic liner in the Belfast Shipyards-along with its sister-ship, the Olympic-is detailed in photos, models, graphics, texts, narration, and the background of music and sound-effects now on CD.

How such great ships functioned is also detailed. The tons of coal needed; the boiler-stokers, deck-hands, and engineers required: all receive their due.

In a darkened corridor, metronomes tick loudly. Each is accompanied by a telegram sent from the Titanic by a passenger. Cheerful messages are paired with lively ticking. As disaster approaches, however, the metronomes begin to slow. The last is silent.

In the chamber devoted to the crash and sinking, stages of the disaster are mounted on a side-wall. The floor, however, is raked, to give the suggestion of going down with the ship.

Steering devices saved from the wreck are shown here in saline solution. The designers have called this room The Dramaturgy of the Sinking.

Newspaper headlines cover the walls of one room. Some of them are now shocking in their inaccuracy: that the merely damaged Titanic was being towed into port.

Attempts to contact other liners and ships in the area are noted. The rescue of surviving passengers by the Carpathia gets its due. At the end of the second-floor's virtual maze of chambers is a round room with a ship's bell to symbolize the Myth of the Titanic. And to remember all who lost their lives in its sinking.

The Titanic went down in the night of April 14, 1912, with a loss of nearly 1500 lives. That was 85 years ago. Until 1985-when the wreck was discovered at 12,000 feet on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean-the Myth of the Titanic was steadily growing.

It shows no sign of stopping. Books have been written; films were-and are-being made. One of the most interesting motion-picture recreations of the disaster was made by Nazi Germany's UFA Studios.

It does not diverge from the historical record, but Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels made sure that the perfidy of the White Star Line's C. Bruce Ismay-one of those hated "English Gentlemen"-was emphasized.

Ismay disregarded all warnings-and ignored the safety of his precious human cargo-in his determination to beat the record for Atlantic Liner Crossings. The subtext of the film suggested that this would not have happened had the passengers taken ship in Hamburg or Bremen with North German Lloyd Lines.

Descending by another set of gangway-stairs, exhibition visitors make a symbolic journey to the bottom of the ocean. They enter a huge dark space.

Suddenly out of the void they see luminescent videos of the Nautile-the special craft used in Titanic explorations. These have been conducted by IFREMER-Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer.

It is a haunting experience to see the gleaming yellow Nautile slinking through the ocean depths like a great fish. Even more ghostly are the floodlit images of the great hulk, encrusted with barnacles.

Spectators also see remarkable underwater videos of the salvage operations. There is a very large model of the remainder of the wreckage as well.

In addition to some large metal chunks taken from the wreck itself, marine life from the Titanic depths is also on display here.

The show is on view daily from 9 am to 7 pm. The requisite Titanic mugs, T-shirts, pins, posters, and books are available. As are the music CD and a Titanic Videotape.

This was made for German television as a prelude to the opening of Expedition Titanic. It not only shows some steps in mounting the exhibition, but even more interestingly how some of the artifacts were found and brought to the surface.

In the video, explorers and preservationists from IFREMER discuss their work on the Titanic and its artifacts. The Titanic is not their only concern. Some 1,700 experts are employed by IFREMER in some 78 laboratories and research-stations in 24 locations along the French coast.

[The artifacts and discovery-rights actually belong to RMS Titanic, Inc. , with offices in New York.]

The video also visits various Titanic experts, including one who has built an immense scale-model in his own modest home. Another "expert" is a Conspiracy Theorist.

He points out that the liner Olympic-which was completed in the yards before its sister-ship Titanic-initially sustained some severe damage to its hull. He contends that Ismay and others in White Star saw it as a bad-luck ship. One which might well be sunk in an arranged but apparent disaster-saving all on board, one assumes-to recover the tremendous insurance on it.

In the event, he argues, the wrong White Star liner was sunk. Among his supposed proofs are evidences that some parts used in the Titanic were actually made for the Olympic.

Talk about Myth-Making!

This amazing installation is set to close in November, after which its producers plan to tour it in Europe. Or Japan. Finding appropriate venues elsewhere and installing and striking it seem unnecessary when thousands of Europeans now flock to Hamburg daily on package-tours to see reproductions of major Broadway musicals.

Expedition Titanic could run as long as Cats and Phantom have in Hamburg, if it were soon paired with a North German staging of Broadway's Titanic.

Titanic-both the musical and the movie-could even be dramatically presented in a renovated harbor warehouse. There are a number of these great brick buildings along the canals. This past summer, one was even the venue for a production of the famed Medieval drama, Everyman.

And, to extend the Audience Experience, how about recreating the luxury of the Titanic's elegant salons, attractive bedroom suites, and handsome dining-rooms-with five meals a day-in another harbor warehouse?

Enjoy a dry-land voyage on the Titanic-with no fear of sinking! There could even be three tiers of room-prices. Rates: First, Second, and Third Class, in interiors to match. Plus all the films about the Titanic, the Broadway Musical, and the actual exhibition!

There's no need to raise the sea-encrusted remainder of the hulk of the Titanic. Just recreate its magnificent public spaces as a Hamburg Harborside Hotel. No danger of icebergs on these canals! [Loney]

Return to top of page.

Copyright © Glenn Loney 2002. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, New York Theatre Wire." Reproduction rights please contact: jslaff@nytheatre-wire.com.

| home | listings | reviews | cue-to-cue | welcome |
| museums | recordings | coupons | publications | classified |