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Theater Review: Titanic: Tragedy & Trial—a student production at Keith Country Day School

February 17, 2010

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

James F. Radloff Jr. as head of the Theater Department at Keith Country Day School continues to inspire and teach his students, giving them opportunities to learn the essentials of performance. His often-daring choices, especially for younger people, open doors and help them realize their own potential.

When he called to invite me to attend, my first reaction was, “How in the world would he build a set representing a huge ocean liner?” He managed very well.

His years of experience at the Clock Tower with its minuscule stage prepared him well. A multi-level series of platforms and railings became the many parts of the ship, and a screen centering the stage informed us of time and place and continued the black-and-white theme. Jan Bacino’s costumes of the early 1900s were also black and white, reminiscent of the scene in My Fair Lady at the races.

The multi-talented Paul Steffan continues a career begun when still a young child. He has appeared as an actor in theaters throughout the region, performs with Kantorei, and now directs and arranges music for orchestra. Steffan’s group included Angela Martinez, piano, flute, and piccolo; Ben Ross, flute and piano; Teresa Radosavich, viola; Tim Gustafson, viola I; Elena Gottlick, cello; Rachael Smith, violin II; and Zoe Jensen, violin I. The music supported the dialogue in Act I, and in Act II became a part of the trial scene where the survivors testified and recalled the details of tragedy.

The actors, all middle school students, played passengers, crew and the members of Congress questioning them, determined to find the answers to the mystery of the unsinkable ship. As familiar as we are with James Cameron’s movie Titanic, it was interesting to look at the actual events that followed.

Performances that feature students assure a supportive audience. Friends and family fill the house. The students at Keith have become experts in every aspect of theater from set design and construction, lighting and sound, to managing the house.

The spring production of Cabaret opens with Dinner Theater Friday, April 23, and runs through Saturday, May 1. Jim has directed and starred in this musical hundreds of times, and as we spoke following the show, we recalled many of those performances. Congratulations to all those involved in introducing young people to the joys of theater.

From the Feb. 17-23, 2010 issue

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