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Milwaukee Rep director shares her connection to the real-life Titanic

"Titanic The Musical" is playing now through Oct. 23 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Posted at 4:51 PM, Sep 22, 2022

MILWAUKEE — "Titanic The Musical" is playing now through Oct. 23 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. It is the first performance since the show was forced to stop last spring due to COVID-19.

"It turned into a situation where we had over 10,000 patrons that didn't get to see the show that had tickets to the show," said Melissa Vartanian Mikaelian.

She serves as the Managing Director at the Milwaukee Rep.

"I don't think I know anyone who can watch the show and come out with a dry eye. So it's a magnificent score, it's got phenomenal acting, it is well written, it's a beautiful production," said Mikaelian.

She also has a very special personal connection to a real-life story from the Titanic.

"My great grandfather, he was a third class Armenian passenger who was a survivor of the Titanic," she said.

Mikaelian says she grew up hearing stories from her grandmother about his survival and his journey to start a new life.

"They were headed to Branford, Ontario where they knew there was some family and there was some work for them," she shared.

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, taking with it 1,500 passengers and crew members. Mikaelian's great-grandfather, who didn't speak English, was able to get on one of the last lifeboats with other immigrants, just before it went down.

"That was all on his 22nd birthday, April 15, when they entered those icy waters, that was his birthday," said Mikaelian.

As you can imagine, the history of the Titanic has a very special meaning to Mikaelian and her family who will be traveling from all over to see a performance at the Milwaukee Rep together.

"There's not many times in your life that you feel like you can always see a part of you or a part of your family represented on stage," she said. "It's an exciting time for us here, the story has a lot of meaning to a lot of folks."

For more information on the musical, visit the Milwaukee Rep's website.

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