Theatre Review: Titanic the Musical, The Lowry, Salford
If you’re on your way to The Lowry expecting a revival of the karaoke classic My Heart Will Go On and a 21st century recreation of James Cameron’s tragic love story, you’re in for a surprise. Thom Sutherland’s version of Titanic the Musical dances to its own tune.
Telling the story of the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage in 1912 from the perspective of the critical and cruel class divide, Sutherland brings a touch of realism to the tale. From the Irish passengers in third class (Kate Murphy played by Devon Elise Johnson with the ambition and youthful vigour of a young Irish girl wishing for a better life, and Jim Farrell) to the equally ambitious, although decidedly more selfishly so, Alice Beane (played to perfection by Claire Machin) and her husband Edgar in second class, all the way to those in first class who, accustomed to the privileges of their life on shore, remain ignorant to anything outside ‘The Grand Salon’, we the audience can’t help but be drawn in by the characters’ experiences of life aboard the Titanic. Thus, when the warnings of an iceberg on the ship’s path are ignored, the production takes on a wholly more moving note.
Although essentially a tragedy, it isn’t all doom and gloom in Titanic The Musical. Thanks to Maury Yeston’s original and utterly brilliant musical score, containing the all-singing, all-dancing numbers Doing the Latest Rag and Lady’s Maid, the prospect of a new life in America is skilfully conveyed. In addition, the comedic moments and humorous one-liners of Beane in particular add another layer to this wonderful reinterpretation of this award-winning musical.
Having only seen the story of Titanic on the big screen with all the special effects that a $200 million budget can buy, I was initially sceptical as to how the enormity and horror of the iceberg collision would be portrayed. However, David Woodhead’s subtle yet brilliant set design, the efforts of the stage management team and the talent of musical director Mark Aspinall ensured that the audience was equally engrossed and aghast as the events of April 15, 1912 unfolded.
As the lights went down and the show ended with the list of the 1,500 passengers who lost their lives on that fateful night, we were reminded that Titanic wasn’t just the subject of a glossy Hollywood movie; it was a very real tragedy.
Godspeed Titanic as it sets sail on its journey across the UK, deserving of all the praise I am sure awaits it on its journey.
Titanic runs until 12th May 12, 2018 at The Lowry in Salford before touring the UK and Ireland, finishing on August 19 at the Hamburg Staatsoper Theatre.
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