Alumnus' Titanic play to be part of shipwreck anniversary cruise
By Steve Seepersaud
Frank Avellino '84 never imagined that a brainstorm with friends at Denny's on the Vestal Parkway would be part of something that has lived on for nearly 30 years. As a student, Avellino drafted the two-act play Ice in April while taking a course in playwriting with Lofton Mitchell.
In April 2012, Avellino will direct a dramatic reading of his play about the sinking of the Titanic on board the SS Amazara during a special cruise commemorating the 100th anniversary of the disastrous episode in history.
Avellino and Steve Hess, with whom he founded New York-based Boz and the Bard Productions, Inc., directed a passenger-participated reading of Ice in April on board the Queen Elizabeth 2 during its 2002 World Cruise, which coincided with the 90th anniversary of the Titanic's demise.
Mitchell's class, says Avellino, provided an opportunity to explore a historical episode that touched him deeply, even as a young child. Avellino came up with the title while hanging out with friends at Denny's.
"[The play] explored a paralleling of the fragility of human spirit with the unsinkable but ultimately doomed RMS Titanic," Avellino says.
Ice in April was one of two student plays that Mitchell chose for presentation. The staged reading at Hinman Commons was Avellino's first foray into directing, and set the stage for more to come.In 1996, he took a cruise on which he saw the attempted raising of a piece of the Titanic's hull. He said meeting survivors of the shipwreck - and being at the site where it all happened - inspired him to rewrite the play. The result was a critically-acclaimed stage production in New York in 1999.
Ice in April received the Off-Off-Broadway Review award in 2000 for Best Play/Best Production. Julie Halpern wrote, "Avellino has created an extraordinarily diverse cast of characters, each of whom tug at the heart in surprising ways...Avellino was as skilled a director as he is a playwright. Under his direction, his talented cast all turned in compelling performances that will be remembered for a long time to come."
For more information on the April 2012 cruise to the Titanic wreck site, visit the website for Voyages to Remember.