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‘Unsinkable’ tells Titanic survivors’ stories 100 years after tragedy

Playwright, actress steals show performing as multiple characters

The Battalion

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07


Courtesy Photo

Playwright and actress Deborah Jean Templin plays multiple characters in ‘Unsinkable.’

Two days after the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s tragic collision with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, MSC OPAS is holding a production based on actual diaries, letters and interviews from six women who survived the Titanic.

This performance brings nine famous figures to the stage, including Madeline Astor and Margaret Brown. Playwright and New York actress Deborah Jean Templin makes the stories of the surviving women come alive, bringing the audience into the tragedy’s emotional aftermath with era-appropriate costumes, wigs and props.

“I wrote ‘Unsinkable Women: Stories and Songs from the Titanic,’ to give the women who survived in the lifeboats a voice,” Templin said.

Templin has been acting for 35 years, including work on more than 30 TV shows and movies, notably “All My Children,” “Law and Order” and, most recently, “Smash.”

Templin wrote the script during a 21-month tour during which she played major roles in the Tony-Award-winning, first class national play, “Titanic.” She began researching the after lives of the surviving women, which ignited the writing and script of “Unsinkable Women.”

 “Touring with the musical, ‘Titanic,’ by Maury Yeston and Peter Stone from 1998 to 2000 allowed me the time to do my research and to actually visit firsthand places these women lived or contributed to,” Templin said.

Templin plays the role of many characters while changing from one to another in full view of the audience. The costumes are inspired by Edwardian era and were designed by Sara Jablon. They will be kept on stage during the performance in an authentic steamer truck.

Art inspired by the Titanic has ignited varying reactions from viewers virtually since waters claimed the ship in 1912. With fascinating stories coming from each of the surviving women, this play offers an intimate and captivating setting.

Angela Lin, senior agriculture communications major, said Titanic is the best tragic love story of this generation.

“I was excited to hear about the MSC holding a Broadway musical version. I will definitely be attending,” Lin said.

“Unsinkable Women” is punctuated with a wide variety of songs ranging from vaudeville numbers to Victor Herbert’s “Toyland.” The music, costumes and scenes will set the audience back in time while learning about these heroic characters.

For some students, Templin’s performance has the power to spark the same intense emotions as the movie version of Titanic.

“There has yet to be another movie that equates to ‘Titanic.’ It’s the most passionate and heart-throbbing film I’ve ever seen,” said Carolyn Maples, junior construction science major.

“Unsinkable Women” is set to present a more accurate telling of the Titanic and its passengers, not withholding the emotion and drama commonly associated with the story. 

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