Titanic – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By @Steve Crabtree, July 2018
Five-time Tony award-winning Titanic The Musical is in Bradford this week, with an eagerly anticipated opening night being a complete sell-out.
Many of those who came to the Alhambra, I’m sure, were fans of the 1997 Leonardo Di Caprio big-screen blockbuster of the same title. Personally, I’m not a fan of the film or its storyline. But the sad, true story of the Titanic’s demise is one which I hoped would form the focus of the Thom Southerland-directed stage version.
“A story of class divide”
With a big musical intro, act one introduces us to the main characters, and quickly builds a story of class divide. We find out who’s occupying first class. We meet the guests in second class who strive to be like those in first, as well as those sharing third class with the rats.
There’s an undoubted happiness emitting from everyone on-board, none more so than those in authority on the ship. The passengers who are excited for bettering their life are harbouring dreams, and the Titanic is the vessel that’s going to deliver them.
As you’d imagine, it isn’t one of those productions that are littered with joyous songs. But it is awash with operatic and euphoric numbers, which suit the story. They create the right atmosphere for those of us engrossed in the tale, and how it unfolds. The story line is such, that you pick up parts along the way and begin to work things out.
The tale is based on the truth, and you can feel tragedy before it strikes. Orders which would have saved the ship are deliberately disobeyed, and with passengers blissfully unaware the act closes in the most dramatic fashion. The tension that’s been building causes the audience to draw breath. So far, we’d seen a story so well executed, that we were looking forward to the next half of the show.
“Cue chaos, panic and alarm”
Act Two. Cue chaos, panic and alarm. The tension spills over from the first act as the owner, builder and captain of the ship turn the question of “What can be done?” in to “Who is to blame?” (My friend and I asked this question on the way home, and like those on stage, we never reached an absolute conclusion.)
But we turn our attentions to the passengers. Gradually they realise that something is wrong, and begin to work out their fate. The upset between Lady Caroline Neville (Claire Marlow) and Charles Clarke (Stephen Webb) tugged on the heartstrings. And the enigmatic way that Mr and Mrs Straus (Dudley Rogers and Judith Street) dealt with their last few moments together was the most beautiful part of the production.
“Something that stretches the mind”
It has many moments of light humour too. After all, with characters excited at boarding this incredible vessel heading for America, there are some uplifting moments. Right up to the last, there’s the odd line that makes the audience chuckle, and the script that Peter Stone has written for this show balances perfectly.
In a world where there’s an increasing number of musicals that are feel-good and purely entertaining; there’s still room for something that stretches the mind too. Titanic does that. Its pace is a little slower than many shows, but that allows the audience to respectfully take in, and absorb themselves in the production.
It’s a show that’s a bit like picking up a book. A really good book. The story grips, tests your emotions, and makes you think in parts. And you don’t want to put it down. If you’re expecting to see the film on-stage, forget about that. When you buy your ticket for this one, expect something superior.
With industrious scenery as a constant, and amazing costumes; Titanic is a brilliant musical. It’s one you’ll be glad you’ve seen.