Powerful Emotional Drama - Titanic
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
There may have been no more water in the Alhambra theatre last night other than the fluid thinning the whisky, but this did little to detract from the human tragedy of the Titanic story and Maury Yeston’s powerful show, Titanic The Musical.
Knowing more of the tragedy than the show itself, I went with an open mind and genuinely had visions of witnessing digital scenery, the only way, I thought, for producers to capture the scale of an event that claimed more than 1500 souls on that fateful April night in 1912.
But how gloriously wrong I was.
It was evident from the off that this was a high calibre product. Sometimes, you get so blasé about musicals as you are fed a diet of cheap ‘….the story of’ products – invariably Elvis, Michael Jackson or A. Nother – that it knocks you sideways when something meaningful and beautifully crafted arrives on stage.
And the reason this Tony Award winning musical was so powerful was not only its fable like story, but the way in which Yeston and his production team, captured the tales of those on board and the manifest tangibility of the hubris and that eventually sank the unsinkable ship.
Simon Green was the perfectly arrogant J. Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line who continually baits Philip Rham as Captain Edward Smith, into going faster and faster so that he could claim to secure the headlines for the quickest ever Atlantic crossing.
But, ironically, it was that very speed that enabled the fateful iceberg to rip a huge hole in the side of the ship, and claim the lives of those on board. As the story unfolds you realise that Ismay was one of the first onto the lifeboats, one of the privileged few – the Aristocrats – who was ‘allowed’ to be saved by those controlling the evacuation.
Lewis Cornay was the innocent faced bellboy – around 50 died on the Titanic – while the rest of the passengers were carefully wrapped up in a dream and served cold; the Aristocrats who dreamt of privilege lasting forever, the three ‘Kates’ in steerage, leaving Ireland behind but hungry for the American dream, and the second-class British professionals eager to continue their social climb.
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However Titanic The Musical did not fall into this trap, leaving less to the technicians and more to the audience’s imagination. Beautiful costumes and staging set the visual scene and, although the first half, certainly the first 20 minutes, was slightly overblown (would the passengers ever get on board?), the second act had pace and drew you in to the point that you were on board and part of the tragedy.
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea because Yeston’s musical is a modern opera with little dialogue, however, his music is beautiful – if not totally memorable – and you will bathe in Peter Stone’s beautiful dialogue without the threat of looming death, and be a perverse voyeur to one of the most tragic events in history, knowing that the Indian summer burns outside.
Titanic the Musical
Powerful Emotional Drama - Titanic, 25th July 2018, 11:17 AM