Titanic The Musical – Mayflower Theatre until 20th April then Touring
Review By Soraya Scrivener
Since attending the press launch in October I have been eagerly awaiting this production of Titanic as it sets sail on its extensive theatre tour. The original 1997 Broadway production won 5 Tony awards and you can guess why when you hear the choral music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and new musical arrangements by Ian Weinberger, which are uplifting, lyrical and heartfelt. Never have I felt so emotional in the build up to watching a show. Peter Stone’s book bases the characters on real passengers of ‘the unsinkable ship ‘and is a fitting tribute to the 1517 men, women and children who lost their lives on the 15th of April 1912.
CTP rated this production directed by Thom Southerland as 5 stars in 2016. Many of that talented cast have returned for this tour. I can see why it would deserve 5 stars at the intimate Charing Cross Theatre but disappointingly in the vast Mayflower Theatre it does not work quite so well. I expected more to David Woodhead’s simplistic set with overuse of a moving staircase and the sub plot scenes are ones that I yearned to be closer in proximity to. Southerland’s direction and Cressida Carré’s musical staging is pleasingly busy and poignant. The highlight of which was the Stokers movement in Barratt’s Song with the clever overlap of scenes as the maids set the 1st class dining table as Barratt stood upon it.
Photo Credit Scott Rylander
Musical Director, Mark Aspinall with surprisingly a mere 5 other musicians do a remarkable job with the memorable score. This is a strong ensemble piece with some beautiful counterpoint and the full cast must be praised for the outstanding result. There She Is and Godspeed Titanic certainly pulled the heart-strings with their stunning harmonies.
Passengers boarding the ship from the stage through the auditorium and exit doors into corridors were quite distracting and broke the atmosphere. However, the use of smoke at the back of the stage for exits and entrances was especially effective.
Sadly, I do not have room to mention all 25 members of the cast. Greg Castiglioni as Andrews, Joel Parnis as Fleet the lookout and Lewis Cornay as bandmaster Hartley were particularly in fine voice. Victoria Serra impresses as the fiery Kate McGowan as does Matthew McKenna as Etches the 1st class steward. Claire Machin delights as Alice Beane trying to hobnob with the 1st class. A goose-bump moment of the night for me was The Proposal/ The Night Was Alive. Oliver Marshall as Bride the telegrapher and Niall Sheehy as Barrett, the stoker shone throughout this number and the whole evening.
The lifeboat scene was powerfully tear-jerking in the 2nd act. My imagination at this point did struggle to fill in the number of people on stage. Perhaps a few more cast members would help here and prevent overall potential confusion with multiple roles. The audience were clearly moved by the list of all those that lost their lives with the survivors in turn quoting things such as “I’ll hear those voices for the rest of my life.”
This dignified production has a glorious and moving score with a story full of aspirations, hope, love, ambition and ultimately tragedy. A fantastic performance which deserved the standing ovation! My only wish was to be seated closer in a more intimate setting.
At the Mayflower Theatre this week, then touring to Belfast, the city where the ship was built and continuing to Cardiff, Salford, Dublin, Sheffield, Glasgow, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Northampton, Nottingham, Blackpool, Bromley, Bradford, Liverpool and Hamburg.