Thursday, September 21

Titanic the Musical – Sheffield Lyceum

Sheffield Lyceum hosted Titanic the Musical this week and it proved to be a rousingly decadent piece of ensemble theatre. The star of the show, as should be, is the ship itself with its hull of steel that claimed to be unsinkable. The production covers its fateful maiden journey in April 1912 and its promise to make history as the fastest liner to cover the transatlantic voyage.  History was indeed made on the tragic voyage, but not as intended, over 1500 souls were lost at sea as an iceberg tore a gash in its hull below the water level.

This production with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and the book by Peter Stone is directed by Thom Southerland. The set by David Woodhead depicts the interior of the ship with its walls of steel towering over the cast and is a constant reminder of the vast scale of the ship Titanic. The passengers scurry at both Quayside and aboard and the audience are transported to a time and era through the cast’s decadent costumes. With the cast taking to the auditorium on multiple occasions the production becomes immersive. Although we learn of individual dreams, expectations and hopes we unfortunately never really scratch below the surface of the stories of these passengers. Is this because the Titanic herself is the story, is this her story? Do not expect this to be a jukebox musical or a remaking of the popular film version of Titanic with Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet – there isn’t a Jack and Rose insight, and I heard interval comments of ‘I wanted the steamy car scene’ – amusing!

Photo: Pamela Raith Photography

What this production is, is two very distinct Acts. The first Act we learn of the passengers from First to Third class and much the same for the crew with ranks from stoker to Captain. All are jubilant and all are filled with excitement. There are love stories and even the breaking down of class as they journey to a new world full of opportunity. The ship designers and builders, financiers and the company directors of the White Star line are all given a chance to tell their version of the tragic events. The act ends expectedly as the iceberg hits.

Act two is more poignant and depicts the final few hours of time as the ship is consumed by the cold sea. This production is made by its soaring musical score, operatic in nature with very limited spoken word it has the feel of epics should as Boublil and Schonberg’s Les Miserable and Miss Saigon. The score is beautiful, and the sound created when the full ensemble sing together is spine tingling. However, I do feel that the ebb and flow (no pun intended) does jar as from wonderful high tension numbers such as Ismay, Andrews and the Captain’s ‘Who is to Blame’, which concludes abruptly moves to a starkly melancholy number where the tension fails to develop and is not maintained. This the story telling journey is disrupted. Probably my favourite number from the show The Proposal/The night was Alive was sung in fine voice by the Stoker, Barrett played by Adam Filipe and the Radio Operator, Bride played by Alastair Hill. Due to the Ensemble nature of this show although individual performances were impressively strong it was the power of their collective that gave life to the production.

If you are a fan of the more traditional form of Operetta and a sweeping epic production with stunningly costumes, rousting musicality, historical facts and insights into one of the most tragic events of the era, the Titanic the Musical is a journey you need to experience.  The production is at the Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday 22nd July 2023.

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 18th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.