Review: Titanic The Musical. Nottingham Theatre Royal.

This is the first ever UK & Ireland tour of Titanic The Musical which launched rather appropriately from the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton on 12th April 2018 in the week of Titanic’s 106th anniversary. It is directed by returning director Thom Sutherland and uses twenty-five actors from across the country visiting cities and communities whose forebears built, manned and sailed on the famous ship, the RMS Titanic, including Nottinghamshire.

One assumes the story of the Titanic disaster is universally known from history and the films, but for those too young or unaware of the story – ‘In the final hour of 14th April 1912, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, collided with an iceberg and the ‘unsinkable ship’ slowly sank. On this ‘Ship Of Dreams’ it was one of the most tragic and infamous disasters of the 20th Century. Tragically, 1527 men, women and children lost their lives and yet 450 seats on the lifeboats were left empty.

The show is based on real life passengers. Creator, Maury Yeston (Nine, Grand Hotel, Phantom) and writer Peter Stone’s (Woman of The Year, 1776) stunning musical focuses on their hopes and aspirations and also on the vast class differences. Unaware of the fate that awaits them, the Third Class immigrants dream of a better life in America, the newly enfranchised Second Class dream of achieving the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the millionaire Barons of the First Class dream of their achievements and high status lasting forever.

The current cast features eleven actors from Titanic The Musical’s performances at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, Southwark Playhouse and Charing Cross Theatre. The original Broadway production of Titanic the Musical won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book.

The show is profoundly moving with a vital and stunning score and some genuine tear jerking moments. There are stirring songs with great harmonies such as ‘There She Is’ and ‘Godspeed Titanic’. ‘The Proposal/The Night Was Alive’ is superbly done and all the more poignant as we are fully aware of the fate of the characters.

The five musicians do an excellent job with the memorable score and the acting throughout is enormously real. As we meet the characters and pairings we are made acutely aware of their ambitions, hopes, passions and dreams and their portrayals are quickly established and, so much in our hearts, we desperately hope they become survivors of the impending disaster. The class structure of the early 1900s is made crystal clear in this humane and yet politically driven show. We are also made aware of mistakes made that could have helped save some lives on this brand new 46 tonne ‘Ship of Dreams’ liner struck by an iceberg in the chilling and deadly seas of the North Atlantic. There is a constant feeling of snobbish invincibility over raw common sense as the ship pushes itself ever faster across the open seas ignoring warnings of the icebergs. Being legendary seems to be the driving motivation but not in the way it turns out!

The totally believable and quite exquisite performances throughout offer great emotional clout especially when singing in unison. Greg Castiglioni as Titanic architect Thomas Andrews is especially good amongst a very high quality cast. The whole show is a real testament to real life people and families whose lives were affected or lost during this most famous of tragedies.

Titanic The Musical runs at Nottingham Theatre Royal 2-7 July 2018

Reviewer: Phil Lowe

(Originally written for Nottingham Evening Post.)

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