I can’t believe it has taken me so long to discover this show. Admittedly, I’d been aware that there existed a musical depicting stories of those on the Titanic for several years, but I think I’d almost been subconsciously avoiding it. Perhaps I thought it would feel disrespectful to watch people singing about such a tragic event, or maybe that I would feel uncomfortable watching it? Well whatever I was thinking, I was wrong. So wrong.
Oh. My heart.
I want to start by saying how blown away I was by the sheer class of this cast. The energy between them was incredible and, being a true ensemble piece, it was wonderful to see a show where so many different cast members got to portray their story. These were performers who clearly knew what they were singing about and had done their research, and there was an overwhelming sense of respect for the people they were portraying.
Secondly, the SOUND of this cast. Maury Yeston’s score is so gorgeous and the recurring themes throughout the piece are just stunning. The variants of the “There She Is” theme stood out the most for me and I’ve definitely found myself humming this days after seeing the show.
It’s very rare that I see a musical and after each song has finished I have a new favourite. The vocals were just so tight and unified. I’ve seen shows before where I’ve been frustrated at the inconsistency of vocal styles used, with some delivering the material in an entirely legit style and others putting a more modern twist on their solos. Thankfully, Titanic showed no trace of this and clearly has a very diligent Musical Director in the form of Mark Aspinall, alongside a cast with a clear vision, meaning the score itself soars and can be appreciated in its full glory. I, for one, would LOVE to hear a new cast recording from this wonderful production.
The fact that the conductor was (rightly) given a bow at the curtain call, reaffirmed my feelings even more of the care that had gone into the music for this production. With so much happening on stage, it’s easy to forget that throughout the whole evening, the magic is also being created by the equally hard-working orchestra, so it was wonderful to be able to acknowledge this through the conductor’s bow.
It is, of course, a hugely sensitive subject; you’re dealing with one of the most famous tragic events in history and addressing the death of thousands of people. There were definitely tears, but at the same time, it’s not a tear-jerker for the sake of being a tear-jerker. Indeed, a significant amount of the show is so warm and uplifting that it’s this that makes the whole piece so heartbreaking.
I think the fact that I went to see the show with my friend, Nicole, who’s from the US, also impacted my experience. We spoke about how it’s a tragedy that’s shared between the US and the UK as it literally happened in between the two. So many people were on board hoping to find a new life, so along with the death of thousands of people, died so many dreams and plans for a better future. Like so many tragedies, there’s also no single figure to blame as there were so many different factors involved in the disaster, which is certainly a reason the story is still so compelling over 100 years after the tragic event itself.
I also think the portrayal of the actual sinking of the ship was also done in such a clever way. I was dreading this moment as I’d been so impressed with the production so far that I was worried about how they were going to portray the sinking of a ship that was in reality 175ft tall. But, in keeping of course with the class and respect with which the rest of the show was delivered, this moment was equally well-executed. The characters slowly joining centre stage and lightly bowing their heads to each other, before exiting upstage was one of the most simple yet effective pieces of direction I’ve seen. This was definitely helped by the reprise of the waltz and, as anyone who knows me will know, if you put something in 3/4 – I’m gone. That waltz broke me.
It’s a show that moves from highlighting how entrenched the class system and the idea of social hierarchy is in our existence, to proving how ridiculous a concept it is when a group of people find themselves in the face of death.
The combination of Maury Yeston’s incredible score and the production’s beautiful direction by Thom Southerland hit me hard, and I won’t be forgetting it any time soon.
Titanic is playing in Bradford, Liverpool and finally in Hamburg before it’s 2018 tour comes to a close. If you are able to see this production then please, please do. You can buy tickets here.
*Also* my wonderful friend Nicole uploaded a video sharing her thoughts on the show as well, and speaks so eloquently of why this production is so effective. She addresses things like the innovative set, the strong performances of individual characters and even shows off some of the show merch, so you can watch her video here!
Olivia Rose 🌹