Edinburgh Playhouse – until 16 June 2018
It has been 106 years since the Titanic sunk, killing more than half its passengers and crews on board. While this famous tragedy is a well-documented and discussed event, Danielle Taranto’s production of Titanic: The Musical breathes new life into the story, creating a gloriously entertaining show that should not be missed.
Having seen this show at the beginning of the tour in Southampton which was a 5 star production then, I can only say that it has improved on the way. The cast of 25 are now more familiar with their roles, growing into them and making them their own. The sniffles and sobs throughout the audience are an auditory experience not to be missed, a shared grief almost. Titanic’s characters get to your soul. Their hope and optimism lets you believe things might be okay. But, of course, we know that it won’t be
The story develops elegantly and organically: even with such a large number of characters, every single person has a clear and distinctive story arc or motivation. Whether it be through a song or a short scene to tell their story, they all felt fleshed out, whereupon the emotions felt and reactions experienced with the sinking of the ship are rendered even more heartbreaking to witness. The characters in Titanic: The Musical were based on actually on board the ship, and while a little creative licensing occurs, careful research is evident and pays off marvellously. The story here is semi-biographical, based on real people, diaries, letters and news articles, and succeeds brilliantly in bringing to life the hopes and aspirations of the passengers. Numerous mentions of the “ship of dreams” alongside musical numbers such as I Must Get On That Ship and Lady’s Maid echo the constant theme of yearning for a better life
Only three actors plays single roles, Greg Castiglioni (designer Mr Andrews) Philip Rham (the well intentioned Captain Edward Smith) and Simon Green (conceited owner Mr Ismay) form a solid core. The men share a strong scene in act two as they argue in vain as to who must shoulder The Blame. Castiglioni has a powerful role in the finale, vividly describing how the ship he designed will sink as he sings Mr Andrews’ Vision.
Some of the stand out performances included Claire Machin as the second-class passenger with aspirations of first-class grandeur Alice Beane, Dudley Rogers and Judith Street as Isidor and Ida Straus performing Still – a romantic duet reflecting on their life-long relationship – ensured that if you weren’t welling up already, that your tears would come.
On the bridge, Rham as Smith, Kieran Brown as William Murdoch and Alistair Barron as Charles Lightoller are powerful men who are painfully aware of their responsibility, these actors working off each other brilliantly. Brown gives passion to Murdoch’s needless suicide and Barron’s Lightoller is powerful in assuming of responsibility as everything around him disintegrates
The three Kates – Kate McGowan (Victoria Serra), Kate Murphy (Devon-Elise Johnson) and Kate Mullins (Emma Harrald) – lead the third class ranks in terms of story development. They convey starry-eyed, poor women determined for a fresh start.
Act One is 80-minutes, followed by a 20-minute interval before a 50-minute Act Two. Titanic is intense from the moment it starts, and most of the actors remain on stage or visible the entire time. The live band, lead by Mark Aspinall play the score beautifully helping to create the story and build the tension
This beautiful and momentous musical deserves to be seen, and whilst for now we must be content with the UK tour, we can live in hope that it will find its rightful place on the West End stage