Moored up at The Theatre Royal Nottingham for the week, Titanic the Musical is must see drama.
I was a little apprehensive, after all, we all know its grim ending, so how can the tragic story of one of the most famous ships in history be transferred to the stage and billed as entertainment?
It is with great story-telling and a superb cast of actors that we’re still on the edge of our seats with tension despite or because we know theirs nothing we can do to save them.
Marking its maiden voyage here to Nottingham, the award-winning musical begins with crew and passengers in awe of the magnificent ship of dreams. At around a quarter of a mile long, its hard to recreate its grandeur in the theatre. Even with some of the cast making use of the auditorium to enter and exit stage it didn’t give the feeling of a vast ship. David Woodhead’s set was fairly basic too, with all the action taking place around one area. wheeling a cast member on what is essentially a huge pair of step ladders to indicate movement was a little underwhelming. It didn’t really come into its own until nearing the end when it tipped, leaving a character gripping on to the railings. His costumes were spot on though, fitting in perfectly with the era.
Based on the book by Peter Stone, the first act is perhaps a little long. Whilst it’s nice that the characters are all based on real life travelers on the fated liner, there are so many sub plots that we don’t really get to know them or warm to them perhaps as much as we could. Standout performances come from Dudley Rogers and Judith Street as lovable elderly passengers Isador and Ida Straus who you know from previous tellings of the story are going to die together in the icy cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Chris McGuigan delivers a strong vocal performance as Jim Farrell alongside Victoria Serra’s Kate, as does Greg Castiglioni as Thomas Andrews.
Musically you’re not going to leave the theatre humming any tunes for several reasons. Firstly, if you’re expecting to go and hear a rendition of “My Heart Will Go On’ you’ve got the wrong gig. The show features an original score by Moury Yeston. Whilst rousing, they’re not particularly memorable. Finally, the production so immerses you that you leave the theatre emotionally drained. Much of the story is told In the lyrics, so you need to listen in to follow the characters. I admit I shed a tear and rather than humming, you’re more likely to leave with the 1517 souls who never returned from the voyage on your mind.
From start to finish, including the interval, the show eerily almost runs for the same amount of time it took the ship to sink after its rendezvous with an iceberg at 23.40 on 14 April 1912. The division of the classes is portrayed, as it was in the 1997 James Cameron’s blockbuster and in other retellings. However, when it comes down to it they were all the same. They all stepped aboard with their own hopes, dreams and aspirations.
If I had to compare the production to anything, it has the musicality of Les Miserable and drama of Warhorse. Despite only being around for 20 years it has the feel of a longer running production but is definitely a modern-day masterpiece.
Titantic the Musical runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday https://trch.co.uk/whats-on/titanic-the-musical/
By Tanya Louise