Hannibal children bring words to life of child survivors from Titanic

Gloria Straube
For the Courier-Post
Posted: Apr. 12, 2019 4:27 pm

Hannibal youth will provide real-life stories through the words of survivors during the Last Dinner on the Titanic from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, April 14 at LaBinnah Bistro.

These young children in the performance came from many walks of life. On the 107th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on the night of April 14, 1912, they all faced life-or-death situations.

Here are just seven of those stories.

'I never saw my father again'

Bennett Straube, Mark Twain Elementary, is portraying Michel Navratil. Michel, along with his younger brother Edmund, (played by real-life younger brother Harrison Straube, Mark Twain Elementary) were kidnapped by their father and taken aboard the ill-fated Titanic. The brothers were named "The Titanic Orphans" as no one knew who they were. Bennett says he is "glad he is playing a kid who survived but feels so bad for many of the other kids who sank on the ship."

"In real life I protect my younger brother, so I am very similar to my character in that way," he said. "But I can’t imagine losing my father."

Harrison said, "I like how my character Edmund got to play with a puppy on the lifeboat."

Madeline Violet Mellinger

Elyse Rapp, Mark Twain Elementary, portrays Madeline Violet Mellinger, who at 13 years old vividly remembers hearing the peoples cries in the icy water all around her. The adults told her they were singing, but Madeline knew they were crying.

"I didn’t know so many kids like myself were on the boat. It makes me so sad to think of them being so scared," she said. "On Sunday I want the audience to feel lots of different emotions."

Eva Hart

MaryLou Constable, Veterans Elementary, portrays 7-year-old Eva Hart. Eva Hart was very vocal in her life about hearing the sounds of the orchestra continually playing until the boat went underwater.

"I want people watching me to feel sadness for the kids that lost their fathers," MaryLou said.

Billy Thornton Carter II

Her brother, Emerson Constable, Hannibal Middle School, portrays Billy Thornton Carter II, the young pal of John Jacob Astor. On board, they bonded over their dogs until the very last minute. Upon being placed in a lifeboat, Mr. Astor promised Billy he would look after his dog.

"I want the people watching our show to feel the strong emotional attachment Billy had with his dog. I have a dog too and so I understand this type of bond," Emerson said.

Millvina Dean

Madison Straube, Holy Family Catholic School, plays Millivina Dean. Millvina was the youngest survivor of the Titanic and also lived the longest.

"I want to share Millvina’s story about surviving. I know she was only a baby, but she was very sad when she found out she was on the Titanic at 8 years old," Madison said.

Robert Douglas Speeden

Luke Straube, Mark Twain Elementary, portrays Robert Douglas Speeden.

"I am a Titanic expert for my age. I know everything about the Titanic," Luke said. "107 Years ago yesterday, all those passengers boarded the Titanic, and we know what happens next. I just want people to look at us on Sunday and know that we are just like those kids. It’s a very sad story. But it’s true."

Next year the plan is to take many more stories of child survivors using local kids and bring them to the stage. Stay tuned.






In Case You Missed It

 Music Under the Stars season begins June 4
HANNIBAL | Steppin' Back, the Hannibal band that traditionally opens and closes the seasonal Music Under the Stars concerts, is again scheduled twice in this year's concert dates. The band plays '60s, '70s and '80s rock and roll.