Titanic the Musical – Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Book: Peter Stone

Music and Lyrics: Maury Yeston

Director: Thom Sutherland

Reviewer: James Garrington

Is it possible to create tension in a show where everyone in the audience knows the plot and knows how it ends? Not easily you may think, but that is exactly what Maury Yeston and Peter Stone have achieved with Titanic – The Musical. The show tells the story of the fateful voyage from the time the ship is being prepared to sail, through to when the survivors have been picked up by the Carpathia, in the early hours of April 15 1912. On the way, it focusses on the lives of different passengers and crew members – all real people who were on the ship at the time. We learn their stories, their hopes and dreams, and the things they are running towards or running away from.

Titanic contains some of the most powerful and striking choral writing that you’re ever likely to come across, and it is delivered with skill and precision by the excellent cast.  Almost every member of the company is a named character and most of them get their moment in the spotlight. Taking the helm is Philip Rahm as Captain Smith, a man too easily succumbing to pressure from the ship’s owners to cross the Atlantic quickly. Alongside Rahm, Simon Green creates a suitably domineering Ismay, while the voice of caution is added by Greg Castiglioni as Andres, the ship’s designer. The dynamic between the three different characters is fascinating, and they demonstrate strong voices in their trio The Blame. Castiglioni later delivers a hugely powerful solo moment too, as he realises where the design fault lies and how the disaster could have been avoided.

Dudley Rogers and Judith Street are an endearing couple as Isidor and Ida Straus, with a beautiful duet Still, choosing to dance as the ship is sinking. Victoria Serra is a determined Kate McGowan, a young woman in need of a husband and running to America hoping to become a ladies maid, while Claire Machin is Alice Beane, equally determined in her ambition to mingle with the First Class passengers to the frustration of her husband Edgar (Timothy Quinlan). All of this takes place on a simple but remarkable set designed by David Woodhead, which creates a vivid impression of a sinking ship within the confines of a stage.

This is an ensemble piece and everyone on stage really deserves a mention – and it’s a large cast.  One of the real stars of the show has to be Maury Yeston’s music though. Alongside the powerhouse numbers sit some beautiful and poignant solos and duets. Godspeed Titanic sets us underway as the ship sails, with a moving sequence as the women are boarding lifeboats We’ll Meet Tomorrow, bringing a tear to many an eye in the audience.

Striking and stirring, poignant and moving, Titanic – The Musical is a powerful experience. When the sun is shining and evenings are warm it can be tempting to spend time outdoors instead of in a theatre, but this production is one that you shouldn’t miss, whatever the weather.

Runs Until 7 July 2018 and on tour  | Image: Scott Rylander

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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