Titanic The Musical is currently making its debut UK and Ireland tour. I was invited along on Tuesday evening to watch the production, along with the Southampton Bloggers, at the Mayflower Theatre, in the very city that it set sail from on that fateful journey, 15th April 1912.
I am a big musical fan, usually of over the top, fun, cheesy numbers and I am sure I am not the only one to question how a story like the Titanic could be turned into a musical, however I was pleasantly surprised at this adaption of the story of Titanic.
Firstly its worth pointing out that if you are a fan of the film, and the classic love story of Jack and Rose, this production is completely different and innovative. Although there are still uncertainties as to what actually happened to the ship, this production takes you through the stories of those who were actually there, from ship builders, passengers of all different classes and the ship crew. I also loved the focus on the three main men involved in the Titanic’s history and existence, the owner of the ship Mr J Bruce Ismay, the man who built the ship Mr Thomas Andrews and of course the captain Mr Joseph Boxhall (pictured above).
It opens with all the high spirits, demonstrating how excited people were for this revolutionary white star ship to set sail. The use of the whole theatre to show the grandeur of the ship was great, you had the cast using the aisles in the audience as they all board this wonderful, exciting, legendary ship. You meet the staff boarding the ship before being introduced to the different sets of class passengers from the poor people boarding this ship to travel to America for a better life, the 2nd class citizens on a trip of a lifetime and lastly the elite few who for them this was just a lifestyle, they enjoyed dinner with the captain and the finer things in life.
I thought the use of stage and lighting throughout this musical was brilliant, using the two levels to indicate class with the work men and lower class passengers on the bottom stage and the important workers such as the captain would stand on top dec. The cast take you through the real story of how the tragedy unfolds. The persistence of the owner wanting to be legendary, pushing to go faster and faster, the captain giving into peer pressure and going ahead with something he knew was not quite right and the frustrations from the builder/designer as he knew what his ship was capable of doing and where things had gone wrong with the construction. Along with the amount of radio calls that were ignored, the impending crash was imminent just before the end of act one, a large bang and darkness to execute the hitting of the ice burg was really powerful.
The second half of the production really got to me, the fear, desperation and pure sadness was heart-wrenching. There is a particular number where the three main men argue the blame for what has happened and panic as they realise they are doomed. Again the use of the stage was incredible, the struggle of the people in third class trying to break free to the top deck was so emotional.
I think this production was produced perfectly to ensure the sensitivity of the story was carried out in a appropriately and in a creative way.
Once the women, children and first class had used the safety boats, there were some touching moments with the remaining people who we shared their last moments with on ship before it sunk. Including the iconic moment where the *builder of the ship* holds on to the railings for dear life and then it switches to darkness as the boat sinks.
A screen appears which a memorial list of the names of everyone who didn’t survive this tragedy. With the survivors telling their story of who they left behind and the tragic facts and reality of what happened to that ship.
I honestly sat in the audience with a lump in my throat, totally gripped the whole time. I think this production is a wonderful, new, innovative way to keep the story of the titans memory in peoples minds. A beautiful story, produced and directed in a sensitive yet creative way with a talented cast and beautiful orchestra, I would definitely recommend this, but be more prepared than me with some tissues!
*Tickets and press photos were complimentary for review purposes*