REVIEW: Titanic the Musical Theatre Royal, Nottingham (2023)

Press tickets for review


A hollowing and hauntingly beautiful depiction of the disastrous historical event.

Titanic the Musical is celebrating its ten-year anniversary and as part of the run has docked at Theatre Royal, Nottingham and if showstopping opera-esque vocals and heartbreakingly beautiful storylines are your thing, then give Titanic the Musical a try.

Pamela Raith Photography

Titanic is unlike anything I’ve ever watched before, mainly because never have I seen such an array of social classes step onto the stage with their own stories and felt an impending doom for every single one of them. Never have I prepared myself knowing that some of the most likeable characters are going to have such a tragic ending. Despite the lingering thought, it still didn’t prepare for the heartbreak at the end.

Titanic isn’t based on the ficitional love story of Jack and Rose that we all know so well, instead it’s based on real stories. Real people. Real people with real stories who boarded and set sail with such a big adventure with different hopes and dreams only to face trauma that could never be forgotten.

The thing with Titanic is there is no happy upbeat sing-a-longs at the finale, there are no plot twists. But, what you’re provided with is a hollowing and hauntingly beautiful depiction of the true story which features a booming and powerful musical score. Titanic ends in tragedy. And we all know it.

The musical highlights the divide in class, with first, second and third class having such a contrasted experience onboard R.M.S Titanic. There is romance and heartbreak on every level of the ship and there are stories of new beginnings and new hope from every cabin. There are stories of burning new romances and stories of ever-lasting love. Titanic is intense, and if it wasn’t for a crowd of disrespectful audience members, it would’ve had me in floods of tears right from the beginning of Act II.

The musical makes you feel a part of the buzz. You’re addressed when told to retreat to your cabins and a large cast of passengers and crew get onboard from the stalls. You’re also a part of the sping-tingling hurt when the lifeboats depart from the stalls. If you are in the stalls at this time, I urge you to focus on each couple and see the haunting eye-contact that they give one another that truly doesn’t break. The facial expressions from the cast here was intense.

What was interesting about Titanic the Musical is through its opera style musical numbers, with minimal dialogue, we are educated about the facts surrounding the Titanic. It is such a strong cast, that it’s incredibly difficult to single out somebody as being particularly strong, especially given that there is no main character per say, instead it’s an intertwining of all the stories, all as important as the next. Instead, I’ll reflect on a few of the characters who made the biggest impact on me.

I was instantly drawn to Lucie-Mae Summer on stage who undertook the role of Kate McGowan. A third-class citizen desperate to make it in America as a lady’s maid with more than just herself onboard, Kate was an incredibly likeable character with quick wit and a sharp tongue.

I imagine portraying a role of a real person with a real tragic story comes with a certain new level of responsibility and pressure. An enormous weight must have been placed upon Graham Bickley to portray Captain Edward Smith who in reality had a great deal of forces pushing and pulling him in other direction. Bickley showed great strength, great power and also incredible vulnerability and anger. His display of the emotions that must have been felt were both raw and harrowing.

There wasn’t a couple that made me weep inside as much as Ida Straus (Valda Aviks) and Isidor Straus (David Delve). Their romance was heartwarming and delightful to watch. I enjoyed seeing them perform together and the dancing duet was like a heart-shattering silence. Their ending was one that broke me the most. They handled their roles with such warmth and dignity. An incredible display from the pair.

Another few personal favourites were Edgar Beane (James Darch) who showed his comfort in the role and his position, desperate to keep his social-climbing wife calm. I also loved Andrew Latimer (Luke Harley) and Thomas Andrews (Ian Mclarnon) though I could truly name the entire cast as the way their voices merged as a company was spine-tingling. As there is no leading role, it’s an intertwining of all of the equally important people and stories onboard, there was nobody that particularly ‘stole the show’ – instead it was a perfect merging with wonderful casting.

titanic programme held up in front of the titanic set

Musical number wise, I particularly enjoyed Lady’s Maid, Autumn, Doing the Latest Rag, The Blame, Dressing in Your Pyjamas in the Grand Salon, Godspeed Titanic and No Moon. The score was the driving force for the production and it certainly delivered in powerful and bellowing numbers throughout. The set is great – and the depiction when the ship starts to rise before sinking is phenomenal. There are little changes to the set throughout the production, except the odd little addition such as tables to reflect the grand salon or the telegram tables. Lighting really takes centre stage in certain areas too – with the spotlight of the captain leaving being a major highlight and the seemingly bursting of the lights as it crashes.

Titanic is a reflection that we all have a dream and we all have a purpose and we all have our own stories. At the end, I thought about one of the fleeting roles of the man who missed the ship and how he was ‘going to be the laughing stock of London’. I couldn’t help think of all the people who this affected. All those who should’ve been there. All those who suffered. And how life is fragile. Titanic makes you think. Reflect. And think some more. And for that, I am most grateful.

Theatre Royal, Nottingham 15 MAY – 20 MAY
Running time: 2h 30(including a 20 min interval)
Age Recommendation: 8+, contains depictions of smoking onstage and is very emotional.

Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston
Book written by Peter Stone
Directed by Thom Southerland
Set and costume designed by David Woodhead
Lighting designed by Howard Hudson
Sound designed by Andrew Johnson
Musical staging by Cressida Carré
Musical supervision by Mark Aspinall
New musical arrangements by Ian Weinberger


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