Titanic The Musical is an unsinkable success

A floating city, a human metropolis - the story of the RMS Titanic has been told many times, but never perhaps as touchingly as "Titanic The Musical".

Thursday, 10th May 2018, 4:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th May 2018, 9:11 pm
Titanic The Musical

The stage of the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays replaced the icy waters of the Atlantic ocean for this musical theatre rendition of that tragic tale we all know so well. And has there ever been a subject so emotionally crying out for a musical treatment.

The Royal Mail Steamer Titanic, the most glorious, ambitious and grandest ship to set sail in its time, was a floating city of hopes, dreams and boasts - emotions that would be dashed on that fateful night in April, 1912.

Titanic was a microcosm of Edwardian society, carrying as it did the very wealthiest people on the planet, the ambitious 'middling' sort and finally those with nothing but their dreams of starting a new life in America.

Some 2,200 souls from all these walks of life set sail from Southampton to New York, and Titanic The Musical relates their story through the prism of three very different social groups.

Three is a key number in Titanic The Musical for it is also the grouping that composer Maury Yeston chose to tell the tales of Captain, Owner, Architect, as well as Stoker, Lookout, Telegrapher.

Unlike the hit film of 1997, this is no glib tale of caricature villains and hopeless romantics, but of real-life people, heroic but flawed crew members and passengers who were caught up in the unthinkable, unsinkable Titanic.

Claire Machin plays Alice Beane, who in the second (middle) class of passengers is a social climber desperate to be seen with the privileged first class passengers such as Isidor and Ida Straus, the co-founders of the famous Macy's department store in New York City.

Although privileged, the devoted couple, touchingly played by Dudley Rogers and Judith Street, show their real worth on the night, choosing to die arm in arm, surely one of the true real-life love stories of Titanic.

In steerage we see the story of three Irish lasses, each named Kate, dream their dreams of a new life in America with other hopeful souls in Third Class through the evocative song "Lady's Maid".

Emma Harrold, Devon-Elise Johnson and Victoria Serra play the would-be immigrants with a touching vivacity and warmth.

Nial Sheehy, as stoker Frederick Barrett, shares perhaps the most touching musical number of the evening alongside junior wireless operator Harold Bride (Oliver Marshall) in "The Proposal/The Night Was Alive" when Bride finds time to handle Barrett's proposal to his girlfriend.

It would be amiss to review any story of the Titanic without mentioning its gallant commander Captain Edward Smith, who like all true seamen, went down with his ship.

The story of Smith sits alongside that of the long-recognised real-life villain of the piece, J. Bruce Ismay, the managing director of the White Star Line, who put pressure on Smith to reach New York in record time.

Philip Rham as Smith, and Simon Green, as Ismay, work brilliantly together, as does Greg Castiglioni as ship's designer Thomas Andrews.

Music is the strand that binds these stories together from the rousing dance number of tthose first few days in "The Latest Rag", the frenzied panic of "Wake Up Wake Up" through to the tearful finale of "In Every Age".

Titanic The Musical is a thrilling, exciting and ultimately moving rendition of the mythic Titanic, a ship that was as Maury himself writes, "a magnificent dream underlying a magnificent failure."

The show runs until May 12th at the Lowry's Lyric Theatre