Denise Vanaria, a Chicago native and Massachusetts resident, is a long-time Titanic historian specializing in the lives of Thomas and Helen Reilly Barbour Andrews. Among Ms. Vanaria’s many credits are Robert Ballard’s film “Titanic Revealed,” and the Broadway musical “Titanic.” Her Titanic artifacts and meticulously restored Edwardian clothing, which she wears at all appearances, have for many years been exhibited at “The Titanic Experience” in Orlando. She is also active in the Belfast Titanic Schools Project; the Nomadic Preservation Society; British Titanic Society; and the Belfast Titanic Society.
Ms. Vanaria’s extraordinary knowledge of Helen (Mrs. Thomas) Andrews, and a resemblance enable her to bring this relatively unknown woman back to life thereby unveiling new information about the Titanic tragedy. Helen Andrews was her husband’s closest confidant, and Ms. Vanaria encourages the audience to become intimately acquainted with Mrs. Andrews. During this unforgettable performance we find ourselves smiling, laughing, crying, and mourning with “those left behind” as Helen discovers herself, her womanhood, her future, and her incredibly passionate love for her beloved “Tommie.”
Thomas Andrews, Managing Director of the Harland & Wolff Design Department, was often in disagreement with the safety arrangements. Nevertheless, he labored tirelessly to make Titanic, in his own words, “as nearly perfect as human brains can make her.” After collision with the iceberg, Andrews’ final hours were spent trying to evacuate the women and children of Titanic. He made absolutely no attempt to save himself and his body was never recovered.
Helen Andrews was inconsolable. Like most Titanic widows she never got closure, albeit she heroically soldiered on marrying shipbuilder Henry Harland in 1917. Nevertheless, Helen’s heart was only truly devoted to her beloved Tommie for whom she always kept the flame. Therefore, Helen never stopped waiting for Tommie to come home until they were reunited in death 54 years later.