Music & Lyrics by Maury Yeston
Book by Peter Stone.
Charing Cross Theatre, to 6 August
The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NL to 6 August 2016.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed 2.30pm & Sat 3pm.
Runs: 2 hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 08444 930650
Review: William Russell 6 June
Titanic the musical – unsinkable.
To launch his tenure of the Charing Cross theatre director Thom Southerland has revived his production of Titanic which opened originally to great acclaim at the Southwark Playhouse. It was a splendid production which used a skeletal set consisting of little more than a platform, a step ladder wheeled about, and a few pieces of furniture with the audience on three sides.
He has adapted it with skill to fit the awkward shoebox shaped auditorium at Charing Cross and the cast, several of whom were in the original staging, give it their all, singing Yeston’s chorus laden score very well indeed. The set is slightly more substantial, but basically the same and the ladder, rather larger, still plays a crucial role.
Peter Stone’s book is a slimmed down affair – the essentials of the sinking of the liner by the iceberg are all there but a lot has been ditched – which makes much play of people going to a New World for a New Life in a New Ship. The characters are clichés – hunky stoker, pregnant Irish emigrant in steerage, social climbing wife in second class, unmarried couple escaping her upper class family, and so on. But it does not matter. The Titanic story has been told far better many times before but the musical version still works and Southerland’s production is so good that the show’s weaknesses are concealed.
Yeston’s choral numbers are undeniably effective, but one does get tired of being endlessly vocally shouted at by the cast while the interspersed solo ballads are at best only pleasant. The score lacks a killer song.
However, the familiar tale of a ship of doomed people works its magic and at the end when a backcloth drops listing the names of the 1517 people drowned the effect is undeniably very moving. David Bardsley is a suitably arrogant and cowardly Ismay, the owner whose demands that the ship make a record crossing caused it to be in the path of the iceberg; James Gant makes the First Class steward Etches a deeply sympathetic figure; Rob Houchen, who gets the best ballad sings it sweetly; and Claire Machin is a fine battleaxe snob gate crashing the swells in First Class.
But really this is not a piece for individuals to shine in, rather it is a company effort and this company is very good indeed.
Ismay: David Bardsley.
Lightoller: Alistair Barron.
Lady Caroline Neville: Helena Blackman.
Kate Mullins: Scarlett Courtney.
Murdoch: Scott Cripps.
Bride: Matthew Crowe.
Pitman/Etches: James Gant.
Bellboy/Hartley: Luke George,
Charles Clarke: Douglas Hansell.
Fleet: Rob Houchen.
Andrews: Sion Lloyd.
Alice Beane: Claire Machin.
Jim Farrell: Shane McDaid.
Kate Murphy: Jessica Paul.
Edgar Beane: Peter Prentice,
Captain Smith: Philip Rham.
Isidor Straus: Dudley Rogers.
Kate McGowan: Victoria Serra.
Barrett: Niall Sheehy.
Ida Straus: Judith Street.
Director: Thom Southerland.
Musical Stager: Cressida Carre.
Musical Supervisor: Mark Aspinall.
Musical Director: Joanna Cochonska.
Set & Costume Designer: David Woodhead.
Lighting Designer: Howard Hudson.
Sound Designer: Andrew Johnson.
Wigs, hair & makeup: Diana Estrada.