The Off-Broadway Theatre Review: Titanique
What an absolute blast this show is. I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun I had downtown at the Daryl Roth Theatre the night I saw the hit musical comedy and parody, Titanique, starring the magnificently funny and supremely gifted Marla Mindelle (Broadway’s Sister Act; Netflix’s “Special“) as Canada’s legendary songstress, Céline “Fucking” Dion. Created and co-written by Mindelle, along with the dreamy Constantine Rousouli (Off-Broadway’s Cruel Intentions; “This is the Night“), who is our hunky Jack Dawson on this voyage, and director Tye Blue, who, in his own words, has been “perfecting the Titanique pop-culture parody genre for several years in Los Angeles, directing and co-creating [like he did here] musical adaptation of Mean Girls, The Devil Wears Prada” and so many more, Titanique is a high seas magnificently cheeky adventure, filled from bow to stern with hilarity and utterly brilliant parody. Overflowing with only Celine Dion songs, performed to perfection courtesy of music supervisor, orchestrator, and arranger Nicholas James Connell (youtube’s @NicholasConnell), assisted by a solid sound design by Lawrence Schober (Prospect Theatre’s American Morning), this hilariously delicious musical plows forward through the kooky, wacky waters of the iceberg-laden north sea, with Céline forever standing by your side (and sometimes awkwardly getting too close and in between) on a journey like no other. This ship is as right as ridiculously right can be, and should not be missed.
So win that hand at poker, get a ticket (or 3), and listen up. I’m going to do my utmost best to not give up one clue or joke for your sailing, as it would be a great disservice to all. But played out most energetically on a stage that looks like a low (to medium) budget Anything Goes national tour, designed delightfully by Gabriel Hainer Evansohn & Grace Laubacher for Iron Bloom (KPOP, Sweeney Todd at Barrow Street), with lighting by Paige Seber (The Flea’s Good Friday) and one surprise cutout culprit who shouldn’t be there (union rules et al.), the cast is completely game, and up for a swimmingly good time at all costs. Mindelle is the perfect leader, bashing out laughs every chance she gets. She sings and improvises gloriously, causing a classic Carol Burnett Show moment of infectious (vaginal and otherwise) giggles and laughs from her fellow passengers as they all try their best to keep a straight serious face. You can’t help but love that, but the odds are against them. Mindelle and Russell Daniels (Off-Broadway’s Awesome 80’s Prom) as the “Fair” screaming and scheming mother Ruth, are just too damn funny and sharp. Rousouli, in the best and tightest pants, courtesy of costume designer Alejo Vietti (Broadway’s Holiday Inn), gives us a butt-tastic, hilarious, and handsome Jack, alongside an incredibly voiced and very funny Carrie St. Louis (Broadway’s Kinky Boots) as Rose Dewitt Bukater, “just a quirky little ingénue trying to find her way“, both delivering the goods time and time again. They are a dream team of hilarity, finding the ridiculous in every sketch and floating door they can strap on.
But let’s be Fair!, and not forget the others, called out and given the space, the songs, and the jokes to shine over and over again. Mark Evans (Broadway’s Mrs. Doubtfire) as the perfectly poised and posed Cal, and (in the performance I saw) Kristina Walz (Rock of Ages National Tour) as the legendary Kathy Bates, or should I say, the Unsinkable Molly Brown (a part usually played by Desireé Rodriguez), fill the theatre with their well-timed hijinks, gloriously strong voices, and superb comic talent, throwing fire on those engines that are driving this ship forward into the night. Aviance Hoyles (Off-Broadway’s Bat Out of Hell) as ‘The Seaman’ kicks some solid song-strutting ass (and legs) in all the parts he takes on, especially when becoming the most surprising iceberg one could ever imagine. Courtney Bassett (Broadway’s Great Comet), Donnie Hammond (Quintessence’s King Lear), and Brad Greer (TNG’s Jerry Springer The Opera) (standing in for Blu Allen) fill out the song and the ship with their gorgeous background vocalizations with a wink and a grin. And Rosé (“RuPaul’s Drag Race“) as both Victor Garber and Luigi camp it up strong, although maybe they have been given a bit too much wacky rope to run with in their inhabitations, taking it a bit further over-board than needed. And even though I can’t say she is the “winner of this week’s drag challenge“, no one, and I mean no one, can sink this unsinkable wacky and wise ship, it’s just too much fun.
Now pound that chest, and hold your fist up high, Céline. And go, board this doomed but delightfully funny ship. Cause “it’s a Céline Dion fever dream of what really happened in her eyes on the Titanic on that fateful night, which is low-key, a gay fantasia of chaos,” as reported by Alex Ellis (who was the original Titanique Rose) in a Playbill interview. Cause what could be better than that? Pretty much nothing. So join in with the fun and musical madness of this epic voyage, and find out just how important Céline “Fucking” Dion is to all those hilariously doomed passengers on board the unsinkable Titanique. You will not regret it.