Titanic The Musical is based on the original Broadway production which won five Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, as such, there’s no Jack and Rose in this story as in the film of the same name. This stage production is based on real-life stories which include romance and heartbreak and are told mainly through song.
Based on the book, by Peter Stone with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston the tale is portrayed with precision and composure; Thom Southerland’s direction ensures that the production is played to maximum effect whilst the Production team and the band are to be commended.
The distressing tale of the Titanic tragedy is known world-wide and is not one which springs readily to mind to be portrayed in a musical production but despite being such a disturbing story, this performance is told with flawless taste and brings a new perspective on the sinking of the Atlantic liner where only 32% of those on board survived.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 14th April 1912 collided with an iceberg and ‘the unsinkable ship’ slowly sank. It was one of the most tragic disasters of the 20th Century as more than 1500 men, women and children lost their lives.
This story is based on the passengers aboard the most legendary ship in the world; it focuses on their hopes, dreams and aspirations, each of their stories and personal ambitions. They were all naively oblivious of the doom awaiting them; Third Class migrants dreamt of a better life in America, Second Class passengers envisaged they would have the lifestyles of the rich and famous, whilst the millionaires in First Class anticipated their comfortable wealthy existences lasting forever. The stark differences in the experiences of the first and lower class passengers are clear from the start with strong performances from the cast leads.
The show has a large cast of more than twenty actors; each one put their heart and soul into their performances whilst taking on multiple roles. As the characters walked onto the stage for the opening song it brought an uncomfortable feeling knowing from the outset the story ends in tragedy as most of them are doomed; but the intense story is compelling and probably brought a tear to the eyes of those watching in the theatre where every seat was taken.
At the start, the cast convey the excitement of the passengers and crew as they board the Titanic; some of the crew running from the stage to the back of the auditorium with crates of fruit, thus allowing the audience to experience the thrill and activity felt in the moments before the Titanic departed, reminding them that this was a significant, historic occasion, the maiden voyage of the largest moving object in the world as it was then.
This is a powerful ensemble piece with the events of the ill-fated voyage being played out on an unassuming yet effective set; the backdrop portraying the hard grey steel of the ship accompanied by a high level platform with stark bare rails plus a moveable staircase on wheels.
The atmospheric production is in the form of a light opera delivering original songs with numerous vocals from the talented ensemble. There were a few sound issues as some of the cast spoke their lines with music playing in the background making it difficult at times to catch what they were saying, it was definitely better without the background music. Additionally, it was sometimes difficult to understand the lyrics of some of the songs which was a shame as the story is being told mainly through the songs; unlike many musicals where there are several songs and lots of talking, in this production almost everything said on the stage is part of a song.
The costumes were superb and positively evoked the 1900’s period, they perfectly replicated the era in society at that time. For the final scenes a line of cast members shared their stories of who they lost whilst wrapped in blankets from a rescue ship; they stood in front of a large ‘In Memoriam’ tribute listing the names of the actual passengers who had tragically died that night.
This production celebrates the 10th anniversary of its London premiere where it won sweeping critical acclaim; it is a moving tribute to those who sailed aboard the ill-fated ‘ship of dreams’ and serves to keep their stories alive.
The production runs until 29th July, https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/titanic-the-musical/liverpool-empire/
Reviewer: Anne Pritchard
Reviewed: 25th July 2023
North West End UK Rating: