One of the most famous tragedies in the world, at first the story of Titanic might seem an odd choice for a musical. Opening on Broadway just six months before James Cameron’s film, the ensemble piece by Maury Yeston and Peter Stone looks less at the disaster itself, and instead focuses on the people aboard the ship.
But this is perhaps the musical’s greatest strength. By introducing several different characters, their hopes and dreams for the future, the story becomes even more poignant. For we get to know them, the reasons why they are on the ship, and their personal love story. For underneath the tragic events are multiple people in love.
Act one is all about happiness and giddiness of being in love, going on an adventure or simply starting again. The future is bright and everyone on the ship has much to be thankful for. Each class, each crew member has a story and the audience can surely relate to at least one character.
Act two, where the ship is lost builds gradually until the panic really sets in and we start to see our characters lose hope, lose each other and lose their lives. This could happen to any one of us, a tragic incident that forces you to be separated from your husband, wife, partner and knowing in your heart of hearts that you will never see them again.
The cast are to be applauded by their excellent portrayal of each character. Emotional performances are given by all, but in particular Victoria Serra (Kate McGowan), Emma Harrold (Lady Caroline Murphy), Kieran Brown (William Murdoch), Judith Street and Dudley Rogers (Mr and Mrs Straus). Each of them undergoes a transition throughout the performance and their pain is truly believable. In addition, the love shown by Street and Dudley when they sing ‘Still’ is beautifully heartbreaking.
Despite the story and cast, overall the show is far from excellent. The music is forgettable, attempting to suit the period, but feeling slightly dated in 2018. There could also be more atmospheric touches, via sound and lighting.
However, there’s no question that the show makes you think, with the final scenes extremely sad and shocking, a scene enhanced by the fact that this is a true story., and choosing to tell this story in musical form, is to be commended.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes