Midnight -- The Reviews

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Every Broadway opening night throws hopes and fears into the highest possible relief. Titanic cost a reported $10 million, at least $9 million of which seemed to have been spent on the opening night gifts and party -- a way of acknowledging the hard work and talent expended on the ambitious project.

The moment of truth arrives for each show with the reviews. TV reviews start a little before 11 PM on the local New York TV channels, then add the network TV reviews and many of the newspaper reviews by midnight.

The fact that Titanic opened "cold" in New York without a tryout elsewhere meant that the show worked out its problems in previews, under a media microscope. The New York Times' Ben Brantley reflected this when he began his review, "The vultures had been salivating over this one for months. How could they not have been?
All those stories of production-freezing technical glitches in previews; the reported rumors that the show might not even open; and, beyond all that, the mere fact of a $10 million musical called "Titanic," a singing-and-dancing rendition of the century's most famous maritime disaster: Yes, it all seemed to portend a memorably bloody chapter in the history of flops on Broadway.
Theater disaster cultists will have to wait, however, as will headline writers armed with scalpels and the obvious puns. "Titanic," which opened on schedule Wednesday night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, doesn't sink."

Tomorrow, the producers will look at the reviews, at their advance sale, and into their own hearts, and will decide whether Titanic will sail on.-- By Robert Viagas

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