RAVE REVIEWS OF TITANIC’S STUNNING UK TOUR

Titanic – The Musical at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton – ‘a modern musical theatre masterpiece’   sails on to a new UK national tour of much larger venues, appropriately launching in Southampton – the port city from which Titanic began her maiden (and what turned out to be her final) transatlantic journey in 1912.

The production magnificently retains the forensic chamber intensity it had before. Evocative sculptural lighting by Howard Hudson delivers mood but also spectacle as needed. But mostly it is composer Maury Yeston’s surging, melodic score, powerfully rendered by a stunning ensemble cast of actor-singers, that had me sobbing openly during the awful inevitably of the second act.
Verdict: Heart-rendingly powerful production of a modern musical theatre masterpiece." Mark Shenton, The Stage

"Central to the show, however, are the real people whose real stories are told, and with so many of the passengers and crew coming from Southampton they are stories that cut deep. I don't want to give too much away but weaving the various real love stories through the action and the manner in which the heart-breaking facts and realities are revealed is heart-breaking.

The super-talented, hard-working 25-strong cast slip effortlessly between parts giving the illusion of so many more and their soaring, crystal clear vocals are breath-taking.

Yeston's rousing, emotionally charged choral music and lyrics drive the story along, leaving you hanging on every word. The set is perfectly simple and the staging highly engaging and intelligent whist the costumes transport us straight back to the era.

One of the most memorable evenings I have spent in a theatre, Titanic the Musical is a must-see show and the most fitting tribute to the 1517 men, women and children so tragically lost and commemorated."
Hilary Porter, Daily Echo

"The cast is fantastic, with some impressive singing talent and a real knack for bringing each individual character to life. In particular, Greg Castiglioni as Thomas Andrews, the ship’s designer, was impressive, and Simon Green as J Bruce Ismay had the audience riling up with anger at his selfish arrogance. Victoria Serra as Kate McGowan also stood out as the passionate and sparky Irishwoman keen to turn her life around. As I say, though, each of the actors was extremely talented.
The cast’s voices harmonised beautifully and were incredibly haunting and moving, bringing me to tears a number of times. A range of soft, heartfelt ballads and dramatically powerful numbers cut through the silence in the theatre like ice, vocalising the emotions that became the foundations of the show; fear, loss, sadness, love, and hope." Jo Fisher Writes, Southampton

 

Titanic The Musical proves skeptics wrong at Belfast Grand Opera House

THE iceberg hits with a powerful roar, the lights go out and it’s the interval – and it’s riveting.

Part one of Titanic the Musical is a frantic build-up to the ship's maiden voyage, the rich and famous on board first, then the gentry and finally the emigrants setting sail for a better life in America. The noise is raucous, the singing tremendous and the atmosphere permeates into the audience as passengers arrive through the auditorium.

Some people were sceptical – a musical about the Titanic? Sacrilegious. Well, they soon realised they were wrong. This is a stunning show and sticks to the facts and proves the point that truth is stranger than fiction.

The passengers had one thing in common: the joy of being on board the great and glorious ship, a city in itself, the legend they were promised.

Throughout the production you could hear every word said and sung, the small band sounded like a symphony orchestra and the lighting evoked so many moods, from the heat of the boiler room to the romance of the Palm Court. The set is minimal, just white railings set high above the stage, a set of white iron steps were moved from side to side to allow entrances to and from various parts of the ship, an ingenious design.

As the first act unfolds the tension rises, excitement gives way to panic: iceberg ahead.

It’s almost a pity to break the concentration with an interval but we’re soon back on board as the water levels rise. Real characters depicted by great actors say their goodbyes, officers and gentlemen hang behind as the upper-class ladies take the life boats. The question asked by Thomas Andrews, Bruce Ismay and Captain Smith is, who’s to blame? Tempers reach fever pitch. The Irish News

The actual sinking of the ship is breathtaking and very emotional for cast and audience. Some of the actors were visibly moved as they took their curtain call.

Above all the singing, the music and the lyrics by Maury Yeston, are all outstanding. I don’t mention individual actors simply because everyone on stage did a tremendous job and they are to be congratulated.

Anne Hailes The Irish News

 

Manchester: TITANIC at the Lowry

In this beautifully drawn musical at The Lowry, the focus is on the injustice of the class system, which is evident from the moment the passengers board this ‘unsinkable’ ship.

Their dreams and aspirations are clear from the start. Maury Yeston’s marvellous music and lyrics sweep us along as we hear the passengers’ individual stories, from the Irish passengers in third class embarking on an American dream through to Alice Beane (Claire Machin) in second class who wants to mix with the upper classes and will do anything to step into their shoes.

All the while, warnings about an imminent iceberg are being ignored or dismissed. The film focused heavily on the fictional Jack and Rose, with those in first class marked as the villains of the piece. The representation is more nuanced in this five-time Tony award-winning musical, with characters singing about the long-lasting legacies of their businesses and family lines. While they may take their lives for granted, they are far from the annoying posh people in James Cameron’s film.

David Woodhead’s costumes highlight the struggle between different classes incredibly well, while the levels he has created in his set design mean that we see people in third class on the same floor as the rats.

If you are expecting to see a huge ship and pyrotechnics galore, you may be disappointed. This musical is about the characters and their plight, and you do not need much in the way of smoke and mirrors thanks to Howard Hudson’s incredible lighting and Andrew Johnson’s subtle sound design. The actors are convincing, and the songs are evocative and moving mini stories in their own right.

More than 1500 men, women and children lost their lives. A musical version of this tragic event could easily come across as deeply earnest and almost distasteful, with characters singing about their impending doom.

But Peter Stone’s text has humour and moving moments in equal measure, and you really feel as if you know these characters. The overly confident captain (Philip Rham) who dismisses the people in third class does not change in a cliched way, but as the fate of the ship is left in no doubt, the fear on his face is quite chilling.

Filled with moments to savour and moving melodies, Thom Southerland’s production of Titanic The Musical treats the audience with respect and allows them to use their imagination. And with many theatres filled with jukebox musicals, some of which tick all the boxes but don’t need you to use your brain, the standing ovation following this show speaks for itself. 

Glen Meads: I Heart MCR

Titanic – The Lowry, Salford
 When composer Maury Yeston first announced he was going to write a musical about the Titanic, it was understandably met with scepticism. A musical about the biggest disaster in maritime history in which 1,503 people lost their lives hardly seems fitting. But instead of choosing to focus on the disaster, Yeston chose to focus on the people, delivering a soaring musical that is both accurate and respectful. No wonder it won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical when it opened on Broadway in 1997.

Based on real stories and real people, Titanic: The Musical is a story of dreams – dreams of building the greatest ship in the world, dreams of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous and dreams of finding a better life in America. From the millionaire Barons in First Class to the Third Class immigrants desperate to start anew, Yeston, together with Peter Stone, has crafted a powerful, poignant and emotional piece of theatre, full of aspirations, hope, love, ambition and ultimately tragedy.

In terms of impact, the production retains the intensity it had on Broadway, although its set has been necessarily scaled down for the touring production. Here, David Woodhead’s elegantly two-tier design instantly evokes the feeling of being on a ship, with moving staircases allowing entrances to and from various parts of the ship. Howard Hudson’s evocative lighting design equally helps to delivers mood, but also spectacle as needed.

Peter Stone’s book is surprisingly historically accurate, as vital statistics about the ship are weaved into musical numbers such as Godspeed Titanicand when disaster eventually does occur, it is done with imagination and dignity by director Thom Southerland.

All of the 25 strong cast are excellent, bringing full voice and powerful characterisations to the 80+ roles that they play. Particularly good work comes from Greg Castiglioni as the ship’s architect Thomas Andrews, Niall Sheehy as stoker Barrett, Oliver Marshall as the telegrapherHarold Bride and Devon-Elise Johnson as passenger Kate Murphy. Southerland’sdecision to see the cast arrive through the auditorium also works particularly well, establishing a closer connection with the audience.

But the real star of the show is Yeston’s surging and melodic score, which is performed with power and poignancy by Mark Aspinsall’s six-piece band. Godspeed Titanic and The Proposal/The Night Was Alive stand out in particular for pulling on the heart-strings, with stunning vocal harmonies by the ensemble cast.

If you’re willing to look beyond its title, there is plenty to love about Titanic The Musical. A modern musical masterpiece about a legendary piece of history.   

The Reviews Hub: Donna Kelly

 

The sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912 is one of the most tragic maritime events on record, where sadly 1517 souls were lost.  Many will know and have watched James Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winning film, Titanic, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.  The same year as the blockbuster film, Maury Yeston’s Titanic – The Musical, opened on Broadway, winning numerous awards including a Tony Award for Best Musical.  The musical, based on Peter Stone’s book, isn’t a factual narrative about what exactly happened to the “unsinkable ship”, instead, there is a specific focus on the characters on board.

            The narrative in the first act follows the characters’ dreams, hopes and aspirations, including those who are planning to make a life in the New World, such as The Three Kates as in the song Lady’s Maid (Emma Harrold, Devon-Elise Johnson and Victoria Serra). There are those who are planning to propose to their loved ones, as sung by Frederick Barrett (Niall Sheehy) in The Proposal/The Night Was Alive, while Lady Caroline Neville (Claire Marlowe) and her fiancé Charles Clark (Stephen Webb) are eloping to America, sharing their love in I Give You My Hand. 

            As representatives of the class system on board, the characters could not be any more different. The Third Class passengers are seeking a better life in America while the Second Class passengers such as Alice Beane (Clare Machin) whose husband has done well with his business, were able to treat themselves a trip of a lifetime. Alice is a social climber and aspires to be among the First Class, the movers and shakers, the billionaires such as the Straus’s (Dudley Rogers and Judith Street).  Also not to forget Captain Edward Smith (Philip Rham), J. Bruce Ismay (Simon Green), Thomas Andrews (Greg Castiglioni) and William McMaster Murdoch (Kieran Brown) who all open their minds to their thoughts and feelings about the ship and passage itself.  They are involved in the crucial decision making as reflected too late in The Blame.

            The score includes the memorable Goodspeed Titanic and the poignant The Foundering which mourns and remembers those lost at sea.  Thoughts and expressions are sung in varied musical numbers which are sensitively constructed for the passengers and circumstances, from the optimism and normalcy during the first act through the second act which is fast moving and poignant, predominantly concerning the Titanic’s fateful final hours.

            David Woodhead’s stunning staging compliments this production, with its steel hull, its railings and stairways and ropes certainly giving the ambient feeling of being on a ship.  The set coordinates well with Howard Hudson’s lighting and Andrew Johnson’s soundscapes, while the staging space is imaginatively used by the cast under the moving direction by Thom Southerland and musically by Mark Aspinall and the live orchestra.

            The cast is formed of performers who have been successful in London West End’s theatre, the Southwark Playhouse or the Charing Cross Theatre productions of Titanic – The Musical.  This stellar cast gives first class portrayals of the characters and together with the ensemble share a wonderful chemistry in telling this unique experience.

            On the night of this review, the production was received well by the audience and credit must go to the cast and also the creative team. Titanic – The Musical offers a window of opportunity for the passengers onboard to dream and aspire to something more, although fated and unknown at the time, how this journey would change their lives forever. Dawn Smallwood - SHEFFIELD