If you have any negative preconceptions as to what a musical about the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic might be like, please put them aside and, if you can get there tomorrow afternoon or evening, go and see Titanic the Musical at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. I went to see it last night and loved it.
The music is quite complex and demands a lot from the performers, in terms of both musicality and emotional range, and they did it justice. The quality of the vocal sound in the ensemble numbers was lovely and rich. Each contrasting part could be heard and the harmonies and counterpoints did their job of drawing the audience in, leaving them moved by the songs of the wishes, dreams, hopes and fears of the crew and passengers on the Titanic.
As well as the lushness of the larger ensemble numbers, there are also songs sung by individuals or small groups of the passengers and crew, telling their own stories. I particularly liked the duet sung by Frederick Barrett, the stoker and Harold Bride, the radioman, when they sing of their own quite different loves – Barrett’s for his girl back in England and Bride’s for the telegraph system. Well, that’s how I interpreted it, anyway. And no, I’m not just saying that because the Singing Librarian is playing Bride and he might read this! The way in which the two characters’ songs combine is really effective, and the memory of this duet made the later numbers, when some of the musical and lyrical motifs are repeated in very different circumstances, all the more moving.
The orchestra, playing Maury Yeston’s rich score, really made the most of it and came into their own, rather than simply being an accompaniment to the singers, as can sometimes be the case.
Although the scenery is fairly simple, it manages to convey the grandeur of the ship through strategic use of props and flying scenery* and backdrops. One of my colleagues, who also came to see the show and is a regular theatre goer, said that she thought the production wouldn’t have looked out of place in the West End.
So, all in all, there are many things to recommend a trip to see Titanic. The cast, stage crew and orchestra should all be very proud of themselves. It’s a production that deserves to be seen, so do go if you can!
*I’m not sure whether this is the right technical term. I mean scenery that is lowered down from the ceiling at the beginning of a scene and then hauled up again when the scene changes.