Céline Dion’s music video for the Oscar-winning Titanic song “My Heart Will Go On” is just as iconic as the anthem itself. Interspersed with clips of star-crossed Jack and Rose are shots of Dion—billowing hair and all—singing near, singing far, singing on the deck of the Titanic.
No, Céline Dion was not on the Titanic—neither in the 1997 film nor in real life. But that hasn’t stopped two musical theatre alums from asking, “What if she was?” Or rather, “What if she thinks she was?”
Such is the premise of Titanique, the musical parody from Marla Mindelle and Constantine Rousouli making its New York premiere in a concert version at the Green Room 42. The show, which highlights Dion’s discography, debuted in Los Angeles last year.
“One of my favorite things about Céline is that even if she’s not right, you end up believing her, because she’s just so genuine and passionate about everything she explains,” says co-creator Mindelle, who takes on the role of the Canadian pop diva. “We have Céline telling the story of how she thought it happened on the ship, and everyone is just like, ‘OK, Céline Dion, we love you and you’re fierce and you’re a diva, so we’re just going to go along with this and get lost in the journey.”
It’s easy to get lost in Dion’s myriad impassioned journeys—from her urgent plea for government officials to “take a kayak” to help hurricane victims to her sepia tone screlting in “All By Myself.” Mindelle recalls attempting to recreate the latter as a pre-teen: “I was cracking every single time. I was like, ‘If Céline Dion can do it, so can I.” The notes come more naturally to her now—listen in the music video above—as she pairs them with some of Dion's signature mannerisms (pointing, chest-pounding, overuse of the word “girlfriend.”)
“It’s imitation in the highest form of flattery,” insists Mindelle.
Mindelle appeared on Broadway in South Pacific, Sister Act, and Cinderella before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in TV writing. She eventually found a community of fellow “musical expats,” with whom she created and performed musical parodies of such titles as Home Alone, The Devil Wears Prada, and Troop Beverly Hills.
While Titanique was born out of a craving for musical theatre in Los Angeles, Mindelle hopes the show will continue to find new life in New York. “New York is so much more energetic and loving than L.A. is in regards to theatre,” she says, “but when we were creating the show there, we found there was such an audience for it and such a home. We were like, ‘If we can do it in L.A., I know we can do it in New York.”
As Celine herself might say, go for it, girlfriend.
Titanique, also starring Rousouli, Alex Ellis, Frankie Grande, and Mykal Kilgore, runs August 25–27.