Titanic The Musical
A ship, boasted as indestructible, is destroyed on its maiden voyage in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.
In the final hours of 14th April 1912, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, collided with an iceberg and ‘the unsinkable ship’ sank, quickly and with little hope for those left on board. It was one of the most tragic disasters of the 20th Century. 1,517 men, women and children lost their lives.
This current production of the multi Tony Award winning show is a stunning and stirring production focusing on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of her passengers – that it is based on the real people who were aboard makes it ever more poignant. We are treated to initial wonder and excitement, stubborn pride & hubris and ultimately tragedy and heartbreak, all delivered by a wonderful cast ( it is quite an ensemble, in fact when they all walked onstage to board the Titanic, it felt like we were watching all 2200 souls).
Class sits firmly in the centre of all, the rush to be seen to be the best, to court the most wealthy, to exploit the poor and desperate, but in the end, not even the richest, most pampered people of the world could survive nature's wrath. That the Titanic still haunts our collective nightmares over 110 years later is a lesson we, as a race, seem determined not to learn from - the horror of unimaginable loss and suffering all because prideful men were not able, or perhaps refused, to prepare for the worst.
Leading the way, as a pseudo narrator guiding us through the whole story arc, is Barnaby Hughes playing the 1st class ships steward Henry Etches. The journey Hughes takes us on, from proud custodian of the 1st class passengers and head of the cabin boys through to comforting the last few remaining on board, all the while retaining his sense of position, poise and peaceful assurance, epitomised a life in service at that time. You could see the joy, pride, focus and then slow realisation and acceptance of fate in both his performance and his physical demeanour, a piece of brilliant stage acting that could be held up as an example for any young actors.
Graham Bickley is imposing as the ship's captain, Mr. E.J. Smith, and also possesses amazing vocals – that he manages to retain an authoritative sense of calm for so long only serves to increase the intensity in which we see him fall to the realisation that his final sailing would indeed be so many peoples’ final sailing. Martin Allanson plays the villain, J Bruce Ismay. Ismay is the irritating bureaucrat who thinks he knows more than the people who actually know more. The show points to him as the chief culprit, pushing the ship to run faster than it should on its first voyage and in the "The Blame" Ismay, ships architect Andrews (Ian McLarnon) and the Captain heatedly point fingers at the others in an ultimate blame game – an incredibly effective portrayal of 3 men recognising they each had some part to play in the tragedy.
The talented Bree Smith plays the annoying star-seeker, Alice Beane, to the hilt; you get the feeling that she's excited for the disaster since that means she gets to hang out with the famous first-class rich folk as they board the lifeboats. Her attempts to hijack the 1st class salon and afternoon dancing make for an hilarious interlude in the rather serious and sombre business of disaster, while Alistair Hill is delightful as the radioman Harold Bride. His songs with Barrett, "The Proposal" and "The Night Was Alive," are very personal insights into an oft overlooked player in the Titanic history.
In all, this production feels as big as the once great ship, but unlike the Titanic, we get to sail again and again – the set is very cleverly designed by David Woodhead so as to not lose any flow whilst scenes change, and supplemented by Howard Hudson’s brilliant lighting the audience is afforded enough space to imagine for themselves whilst remaining true to the director Thom Sutherland’s vision.