Titanic ~ The Musical

An Epic Tale of Titanic Proportions

I went to Titanic~The Musical not expecting to like it.  After all, this is a story of a great tragedy – how could they turn it into a musical? But to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the production now on stage at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre.

The show’s score is rich and full, and the singing voices are wonderful.  But equally important is the fact that the tragedy is treated with great respect.  We are reminded that so many people with so much to give lost their lives on that night in April 1912. titanic-the-musical

Titanic~The Musical opened on Broadway in 1997, and although it won the Tony for the best musical that year, it didn’t prove popular.  Then it was overshadowed by the famous movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

In fact, the musical is still living in the movie’s shadow.  At intermission, I heard a group of women discussing the fact that they were disappointed when Jack and Rose weren’t in this show.

Frankly, I find the musical to be preferable – it has love stories without the melodrama of Jack and Rose.  I feel that the audience is getting a more realistic depiction of that glorious maiden voyage, followed by the sudden disaster.  In fact, the characters in the musical are actually people who were on the Titanic.

The show opens with a tribute to the greatness of the Titanic – the largest man-made moving object.  It is compared to other great feats in history, such as the building of Stonehenge, the Pyramids, or the Great Wall of China.  There is ominous foreshadowing in the fact that Mr. Ismay of the ship’s owner, White Star Lines, is telling the Captain to go faster, and the Captain is ignoring the many iceberg warnings.

It is a true ensemble show, with no one person in a starring role.  We are introduced to people in First Class, Second Class and Steerage, and in Act I we get to know them.  When the iceberg is hit, we feel the overwhelming loss of these people and this marvellous ship.

The cast of 25 are all from the U.K. and many of them cover multiple roles.  Singing together they produce amazing harmonies, creating a wall of sound in the stirring anthems.

The show concludes with a very sobering scene:  What appears to be a newspaper page from 1912 is projected on a big screen, with long lists of names of those who lost their lives.  A total of 1,503 people died, including passengers and crew, while only 705 survived.

A trip to see Titanic~The Musical is well worth it.  First, from my reading, I believe it is more historically accurate than the movie and secondly, it has beautiful music, wonderfully sung.

Titanic~The Musical continues with eight shows a week at Princess of Wales Theatre until November 4.  Call Ticket King 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333 or visit www.mirvish.com for tickets.

Photo: Judith Street and Ben Heppner as Mr. and Mrs. Isador Straus, owners of Macy’s Department Store, in Titanic~The Musical. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Titanic ~ The Musical
Story & Book by Peter Stone
Music & Lyrics by Maury Yeston
Directed by Thom Southerland
Musical Direction by Mark Aspinall
Choreography by Cressida Carré
Produced by Michael Harrison, Paul Elliott and David Mirvish
Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto
May 19 to June 21, 2015
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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4 thoughts on “Titanic ~ The Musical”

  1. A small correction, Mary. The cast are not all from the UK. Ben Heppner is the lone Canadian.

  2. Thank you, John, for pointing that out. Mr. Heppner is amazing as Mr. Straus, along with Judith Street as Mrs. Straus. They certainly gave very heart-felt performances. And of course, Mr. Heppner is a CBC-Radio host!

  3. I saw the original show at the Southwark Playhouse in London, it was an intimate theater and I am intrigued to know how it bridged the gap to such a large venue? Mark Aspinall as Musical Director was superb and worked hard to make it work. I know, for I am his father.

  4. It is a large theatre, and I was sitting well towards the back — and loved the music. It appears to have made the transition very well. Thank you for your input — nice to hear from proud parents!

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