For Titanic 's Millionaire & Steward, It's Full Stram Ahead

For Titanic 's Millionaire & Steward, It's Full Stram Ahead Most of Henry Stram's career has been spent Off-Broadway, where he accumulated a body of work (The Grey Zone, Christina Alberta's Father, A Bright Room Called Day, et al.) that earned him a 1996 Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance. He was past 40 (just) when he finally booked passage to Broadway -- via Titanic. It proved to be a baptism-by-iceberg, but Stram and ship are still blissfully afloat.
Henry Stram as First Class Steward Henry Etches.
Henry Stram as First Class Steward Henry Etches. (Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus)

Most of Henry Stram's career has been spent Off-Broadway, where he accumulated a body of work (The Grey Zone, Christina Alberta's Father, A Bright Room Called Day, et al.) that earned him a 1996 Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance. He was past 40 (just) when he finally booked passage to Broadway -- via Titanic. It proved to be a baptism-by-iceberg, but Stram and ship are still blissfully afloat.

His is a two-tiered Broadway debut. He signed on as a first-class passenger (millionaire George Widener) and has now slipped to a first class steward (Henry Etches), replacing Allan Corduner. His research worked for both roles: "I read a lot of Edith Wharton, things that gave a flavor of the Edwardian society--and, of course, testimonies of the survivors."

Etches is the longer, stronger role, and Stram loves it, putting up a brave front for the doomed passengers he serves. "There are wonderful acting moments in the part. It's a lonely role--most people in the show are couples--and there's a nobility about him."

The Widener role left him room for triple casting. During the launch number, he dizzily did three costume changes and ran--ran!--a social gamut from stoker to Widener to lucky Frank Carlson, who missed the boat ("If that isn't the story of my entire god-damn life!").

Recently Stram took time off to do his tenth and largest film role-- in "The Cradle Will Rock." "It was wonderful to be with Vicki Clark again." (She's the second-class climber he tries to eject from Titanic's first class ragtime number.) But, now he's back on board the Tony-winning vehicle and proud to be there. Full Stram ahead... -- by Harry Haun