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Drama of 'Titanic' sets sail in Starpoint musical
Photo and story by Susan Mikula Campbell
One hundred years ago, the Titanic sunk to the bottom of the sea on her maiden voyage. To observe the April 15 anniversary, a shipload of events is planned, among them a cruise, a television special and a release of a 3-D movie.
Get an early boarding pass to the Titanic mania today, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, as Starpoint High School presents the musical "Titanic."
This is producer/director Jason Gielow's fourth musical at Starpoint. He's promising a blockbuster with a cast of 45 young people who have been rehearsing since November, attention to historic detail, right down to the life vests, special effects with lighting and dry ice, plus detailed sets to bring the luxury liner's tragic story back to life.
"We're going to sink a ship. We're going to make you feel like 46,000 tons of steel just sank in front of you," Gielow said.
The massive, detailed sets, as in recent past shows at Starpoint, were designed and blueprints prepared with the help of Gielow's father, Dennis, a retired engineer, last June.
When the Wheatfield resident was unable to help build the sets this year due to surgery for asbestos-related lung cancer, a crew of nine dads from the community stepped forward.
"The community here at Starpoint is amazing," Jason Gielow said.
Other parent volunteers, along with a directing team funded by the Starpoint Board of Education, are helping Gielow and his talented students put together a show they are truly excited about.
"They are even reciting lines in the hallway to their friends," said Gielow, who honed his interest in musicals as a Niagara-Wheatfield High School student. Still a Wheatfield resident, he has been teaching at Starpoint for 11 years.
Including the cast, Gielow estimates more than 80 Starpoint students are involved in some aspect of the show.
Senior Emily Spina has participated in Starpoint productions since seventh grade. "They're just so much fun. I'm really going to miss it next year."
"Titanic," she said, is an epic story. Instead of focusing on a few stars, this show has lots of main characters, so everyone has a song or lots of lines. "It's not your traditional musical."
Freshman Tyler Puchlerz started in musicals last year when his voice deepened to bass. He became fascinated with the Titanic and began researching the sinking after finding out that most of the characters in the show were real people, including his own character, Frederick Fleet, the ship's lookout.
"I know pretty much everything about this musical, because I study it," he said. He rattles off a string of facts about Fleet, who survived the sinking as a rower on Boat 6, and adds, "Surprisingly, I look like my character, too ... short, frizzy hair and a baby face."
Puchlerz said audiences who come to "Titanic" will enjoy a fascinating show. "It's non-stop shock and awe," he said.
"Expect to cry ... in a good way," Spina added.
Show times are at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8; Friday, March 9; and Saturday, March 10. There also will be a 2 p.m. performance on March 10. Tickets ($8 adults, $6 senior citizens, $4 children or students) are available in advance at the school office or at the door. Seating is general admission and doors open 30 minutes prior to show time. Arrive early; past shows have sold out. The school is located at 4363 Mapleton Road, Pendleton.