Thomas Richards played the skipper in a 2010 staging of a musical about the doomed ocean liner.
There's no spoiler alert necessary for the Second Stage Theatre Company's musical production of "Titanic."
"You know how it ends," said Randy Day, Burnsville High School's theater manager and "Titanic" artistic director.
But Day hopes the audience will sense the emotion of the actual event. "Because it is a historical event, you want to do it right," Day said.
Second Stage is an all-volunteer theater company that is a collaboration between the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District and the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. Its goal is to give students the opportunity to move on to the "second stage" of theater learning, gaining experience on a professional stage with area arts professionals, technicians and alumni who've gone on to further education and experience in the performing arts.
The company raises money to cover the $50,000 cost of the production through grants, ticket sales and fundraising programs. The Arts Center trains student volunteers to run sound and lighting systems under the supervision of staff, both to give them experience in the theater and to cut costs for the production.
The second production
"Titanic" is Second Stage's second show at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. The first was "Sweeney Todd," presented last year.
"People say I like to do dark shows. I like to do dark shows well," said Day.
This year's production has gathered both professional and amateur actors from around the country as well as locally. "Titanic" began production in mid-May with auditions.
Thomas Richards, a 2006 Burnsville High School graduate who plays Capt. E.J. Smith, auditioned via YouTube while completing his senior year at George Washington University. Richards is on his way to a career in musical theater.
Second Stage also encourages those with a budding affinity for theater to join.
Katie Ross, a 2010 graduate of St. Paul Park High School, said it is her first production ever. While Ross has always enjoyed theater, she said she never realized how much work is involved in a production.
The payoff, she says, is the emotion the cast will be able to bring to the stage.
The musical is faithful to the 1997 Broadway production's script. However, Day said that the attention to detail in the set and costume design is unique to the Burnsville Second Stage production.
Day attributes the replica plates complete with first-class stamp and pattern, the handmade life vests that are exactly the dimensions of those that were on the ship, and the imported props to set designer Bob Graff.
Day said Graff's attention to detail allows the audience to better appreciate the historical significance of the production.
Joy E. Petersen is a Minneapolis freelance writer.