First and foremost let’s clear up the important stuff – Titanic The Musical is nothing to do with the iconic 1997 film based on the fictional story of Jack and Rose and no-one sings My Heart Will Go On – please do your research before coming to watch and don’t be one of the people that leaves at the interval because it’s not what you were expecting. It’s a shame that such a hardworking, professional and polished cast have to experience this.
Anyway, I will admit this wasn’t a musical I had heard of before so I was surprised to read it first opened on Broadway the same year as the film was released – based on the book by Peter Stone focusing on real people and with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston.
As the Titanic is about to set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, we are introduced to the passengers and crew. Clever set design and use of the stalls help to make it seem as though the passengers were boarding the spectacular ship and that we are already on it (thankfully minus the sea sickness.)
A story of class divided, we meet the 3 Irish Kates (Victoria Serra, Gemma McMeel and Devon-Elise Johnson) from 3rd class who are hoping to change their lives and fulfil their dreams in America. In 2nd class we have “pretending to be married” couple Charles (Stephen Webb) and Lady Caroline (Emma Harold) and married couple Alice and Edgar Beane.
Alice (Claire Machin) who longs for a better life then introduces us to the 1st class passengers – hats off for remembering all the words in that song (there was rather a lot!)
It was great to see Niall Sheehy finally up on stage. As boiler room attendant Frederick Barrett, Niall had a poignant number with wireless operator Harold Bride (Oliver Marshall) “The Proposal/The Night Was Alive” and they both held a strong presence and showcased the hardships the staff endured throughout.
As the unthinkable is happening to the “unsinkable ship” – owner J. Bruce Ismay (Simon Green,) shipbuilder Thomas Andrews (Greg Castiglioni) and Captain Edward Smith (Philip Rham) are looking at each other and who to blame – was there a flaw in the design, should we have gone so fast, why did I ignore the iceberg warnings…
There was many a sweet moment between elderly 1st class passengers Ida and Isidor Straus (Judith Street and Dudley Rogers) and I’m sure many of us hope we are still that much in love at that age.
Most of this musical is told through song with an original score; and whilst you would not be familiar with any of the songs they are powerful enough to deliver the story effectively. When the entire cast were singing “Godspeed Titanic” it was breath-taking, captivating and hauntingly beautiful.
A wonderful cast who combine effortlessly with many playing multiple roles with ease. Stand out for me was Lewis Cornay as both bellboy and as Wallace Hartley singing “Autumn” a young man with a very long career ahead in musical theatre – I applaud you.
The first half was far superior to the second but still a heartfelt insight into those 700+ who survived and the 1500+ men, women and children who lost their lives. There were many who were quick off their seats at the end for a rapturous standing ovation.
Titanic The Musical, Theatre Royal Nottingham until Saturday 7th July.
Photos by Photo by Scott Rylander