Titanic begins as Thomas Andrews, the architect of the great ship, pores over the blueprints of his design. The curtain then rises to reveal the Ocean Dock in Southampton, England, where people are gathering to wonder at and to board the ship on sailing day: first a Frederick Barrett, then additional crewmen, officers and stevedores, the owner, the architect and the captain, the Third and Second Class passengers, and finally the First Class passengers. Now fully boarded, the ship pulls out as the company sings a prayerful farewell.
One by one, the dreams and aspirations of key characters are presented: Barrett, the Frederick Barrett who wanted to get away from the coal mines; Murdoch, the ship's officer contemplating the responsibility of command; Kate McGowan and the Third Class passengers who yearn for a better life in America; Chief Steward Etches and the millionaires he serves who exult in the wonders of their world.
Barrett finds his way to the Telegraph Room where he dictates a proposal of marriage to his sweetheart back home in a telegram transmitted by Harold Bride, a young telegraph operator smitten with the possibilities of the new radio technology.
The next day, April 14, after Sunday morning church service, the First Class attends the shipboard band's spirited out-of-doors dance-concert, an exclusive event crashed by Second Class passenger Alice Beane, a hardware store owner's wife who wants more out of life. That evening, as Fleet the lookout scans the horizon and bandsman Hartley regales the First Class Smoking Room with a new song, the ship sails inexorably towards her collision, which ends Act One.
Act Two opens as the suddenly awakened First and Second Class passengers are assembled in the Grand Salon for life-belt instruction by Chief Steward Etches, before being sent up to the Boat Deck to board the lifeboats. In the Telegraph Room, Captain Smith, Mr. Andrews and Mr. Ismay, the owner, argue over who is responsible for the disaster while Mr. Bride tirelessly sends out the S.O.S.. Up on the Boat Deck, the male passengers are separated from their families and all express hopes of being reunited as the final boat is lowered. Isidor Straus (the owner of Macy's) and his wife Ida remain behind together, as she refuses to leave his side after 40 years of marriage and Mr. Etches utters a prayer. In the abandoned Smoking Room, Thomas Andrews desperately redesigns his ship to correct its fatal flaws until the futility of his actions leads him to predict, in horrifying detail, the end of Titanic just as she begins her now-inevitable descent.
In an Epilogue, the survivors picked up by the Carpathia numbly retell what had once been Mr. Andrews' dream. The living are joined by their lost loved-ones in a tableau recapturing the optimistic spirit of the Ocean Dock on sailing day.
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