Press coverage -  NODA & on-line Reviews  Titanic - the Musical  - 2012

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TITANIC      June 2012  - NODA Review -  Budge Grounsell

If you went to see Titanic the Musical and expected to come out humming standard type show tunes then I am afraid you would have been disappointed. The music in this show was more akin to Elgar and Vaughan Williams than Rogers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe.  The music and the lyrics that accompanied it were created to underpin and underline one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century or indeed of any century and how well it succeeded. 

This was a show that cried out for great singing and the West Kirby Society did not disappoint it’s audience; Musical Director Rob Bowness should stand up now and take a bow, a big bow.

This version of the Titanic story was of course written for the stage so we had no Kenneth More (a Night to Remember) demonstrating his stiff upper lip, no Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck (Titanic) acting out their family troubles or star crossed lovers Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (Titanic) standing on the prow romantically gazing on an uncertain future, to mention but three of the more famous Film and TV adaptations. 

This version is about turn of the century British culture with its rigid class system and this is the essence of what Director Sharon Henderson had to contend with; the dreams of the differing groups passengers and crew; and the changes in character following the encounter with the iceberg.  Did she succeed? Of course she did, grasping the potential for bringing these individualistic emotive moments to life.  

With a cast of 90, all of whom made their own contribution to the show’s success, mentioning individual names seems to be somewhat churlish.  The main protagonists - Captain Smith  his officers and the various members of his crew, from stewards to stokers and radio operator, Bruce Ismay White Star’s man on the spot, Thomas Andrews the designer could have been the real thing. 

The passengers each with their own agendas, Alice Beane with her pretensions to the grandeur of first class, the lovers eloping , the three Kates together with the rest of the steerage passengers hoping for a better life in America and for one of them the hope that she can marry and find a father for her child.  The Strauses old, but still in love, a love strong enough to ensure they will die together.  The card playing captains of industry scandalised when Charlotte Cardoza invades their traditional male domain to claim a place at the poker table. 

The Major who seems to have fought every battle besieged by increasing numbers of the enemy.  By giving us snapshots of all these people and letting us eavesdrop on their conversations the Director brought them to life without us becoming too embroiled in their lives or dramatising them to the detriment of the main character - which was the ship itself - seen only on film of course but still the victim of man’s striving to create one of the  greatest of engineering feats but failing to see the opportunity for disaster which might come with it.

West Kirby Light Opera can rightly claim great kudos from this production. Great singing, good acting and dancing , I particularly liked the “Latest Rag” courtesy of the Wallasey School of Ballet and Choreographer Debbie Clark.  Of course any good production is not just down to the cast on stage. 

The costumes certainly looked authentic to the period although contrary to some opinion I was not around to see the styles of the time, well done Jean Taylor together with Jane King and the students of the Liverpool Community College of Art.   The programme was very interesting and I especially liked the likenesses of the real people against their counterparts in the show and how nice to see a picture of the “behind the scenes” team, who under the direction of  Dave Molley did a splendid job.   Props , Sound and Lighting all of whom have an important part to play did very well.

Let’s face - this is a team effort and the whole team was excellent.   Thank you, can I come and see your next show?


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Titanic the Musical – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Writer: Peter Stone

Music & Lyrics: Maury Yeston

Director: Sharon Henderson

Reviewer: Iain Sykes

The Public Reviews Rating: 3 stars

The maritime city of Liverpool and the story of R.M.S. Titanic are linked in so many ways. The headquarters of the ship’s owners, The White Star Line were located in the city and a large number of her crew hailed from the area. It’s perhaps fitting, therefore, that the centenary of her sinking is remembered at the Empire Theatre, in West Kirkby Light Operatic Society’s version of Peter Stone and Maury Yeston’s Tony Award winning show of Titanic the Musical.

The Titanic of this production is played out on a simple, adaptable modular set, designed by Scenic Projects. The concept is simple yet effective as deck areas, the ship’s bridge and internal corridors are wheeled on and off stage with, generally, the smoothest of changes. One drawback is that even when sitting in the front few rows of the circle, the crow’s nest is so high it appears that poor lookout Frederick Fleet (Nick Hawkswell’s big solo) is nothing but a singing torso. The lack of intricate detail on the set itself is compensated for by a series of large projections of the Titanic’s internal grandeur and of key moments in the ship’s tragedy. This, again, works as an effective device. One technical aspect that lets the opening night of the show down badly is a dreadful sound balance. Some voices come through the speakers at ear splitting volume, others are drowned out, and most frustratingly, some lead vocals disappear altogether at the climax of key songs. All very annoying for the first night audience yet something that hopefully should be remedied for the rest of the run.

Yeston’s score sounds beautiful played by the orchestra under Musical Director Robert Bowness but occasionally some of the cast do have timing issues. Director, Sharon Henderson and choreographer, Deborah Clark marshal a cast of around a hundred well around a packed stage. The production is well cast. There are stand out performances from the three characters around whom the disaster centres. Mike Ellis as Captain Smith, Stuart Raphel’s intense Thomas Andrews and a pompous J.Bruce Ismay portrayed by Michael Kennedy. The Blame, the song featuring all three is a highlight as is Raphel’s dramatic solo number, Mr. Andrews’ Vision. Much as in the allocation of the lifeboats, most of the action in the show is focussed on the first class passengers and other eye-catching performances come from Eric Mates and Denise Milnes as the couple refusing to be parted and Tia Gill’s Alice Beane, a social climber to the very end. Amongst the crew, Matthew Mellor as Harold Bride and Rob Poston’s Fred Barrett enjoy some great moments.

This production is designed to be a spectacle. The large cast means there’s rarely time to take your eyes off stage and the nature of the story means the audience are always in a sense of anticipation as the iceberg warnings are flashed onto TV screens around the auditorium even as the first class passengers enjoy their pleasant afternoon on deck. It is an ambitious show for WKLOS to take on and despite the technical issues it is a very enjoyable evening.

Runs until 9th June


Titanic the Musical (Liverpool)

Venue: Liverpool Empire Theatre
Where: Liverpool
Date Reviewed: 6 June
WOS Rating: 3 stars
Average Reader Rating: 4 stars

It is fitting, that on the centenary year of the biggest shipping disaster ever recorded, that West Kirby Light Opera Society bring their wonderful production of Titanic the Musical to a city which has so many links with the doomed liner.
First performed on Broadway in 1997, the show became a surprise hit, and went on to win several Tony Awards that year.
Titanic the Musical follows the lives of several of the passengers and crew of the 'unsinkable' ship from when it set sail to its inevitable demise.
The show works so well because it is an outstanding ensemble production. It utilises the cast of nearly 100 very well, and it never appears that the stage is too full. Many of these ensemble numbers are beautifully sung, and the sound fills the Empire’s auditorium.
The size of the cast is also its ‘Achilles’ heel’ in that because there are so many characters, you don’t get to develop any emotional attachment as you do in the infamous James Cameron film, released in the same year.
The biggest problem with this show, however, is that everyone knows the story. This leads you wanting to hurry through some of the less exciting parts to get to the good stuff, and means that much of Act I seems pointless and overlong.
There are quite a few standout performances. Tia Gill, as second class passenger Alice Beane, who longs to break free of her social standing, is superb. Credit is also due to Matthew Mellor who sings gracefully with crystal clear diction.
Maury Yeston’s score moves the piece along nicely to its inevitable conclusion, but suffers from the fact that none of the numbers are particularly memorable.
It is the last 20 minutes of this show in which it really comes into its own. The music builds and the impending sense of doom is palpable.
WKLOS are well-known to put on ambitious shows, and this is indeed another. It has taken nearly 12 months of preparation to get this show onto the stage, and the effort which has gone into it is apparent. The costumes are vibrant and the choreography is tight.
It is certainly a risky show to go and see, but one that will pay off in the enthusiasm and energy that WKLOS bring. Go and see before it sets sail.
-David Jack

Reader Reviews




Saw the final night last night. Absolutely stunning. Great ensemble work, with some with impressive soloists. A particular favourite song was The Proposal/Night Was Alive, very very well sung by Robert Poston and Matthew Mellor. A really great production overall. - Mr Jameson

10 Jun 12

Went to see this show on the 7th. Fantastic and we found it very moving,it brought tears to my eyes, the three young Kates really stood out with their vocals. - susan

08 Jun 12

Amendment made, thank you - North West editor

07 Jun 12

My husband & I attended last night's performance. For the finale, we were both in tears and on our feet. I hope to go again on Saturday. - Mrs Kah

07 Jun 12

I was at this performance. It was brilliant. So moving. The acting, singing and staging was outstanding. Refreshingly nothing like the Hollywood version. A standing ovation at the end proves it deserves a 5 star rating. Go see it. - Geoff Edwards

07 Jun 12

It's MAURY yeston. I haven't seen the show - Theyesgame

06 Jun 12


West Kirby Light Operatic Society to stage Titanic – The Musical at the Liverpool Empire

Jun 7 2012 by Mark Smith, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News
WEST Kirby Light Operatic Society (WKLOS) will once again stage multi-award-winning Broadway production Titanic – The Musical at the Liverpool Empire until this Monday.
In the centenary year of the ship’s sinking, WKLOS sails home with the musical it last performed in 2005, for a fitting and momentous occasion as part of Liverpool’s Titanic 1912-2012 programme of events.
The sinking of Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912, remains the quintessential true-life disaster story.
A total of 1,517 men, women and children lost their lives, with only 711 surviving.
The reality of the finest, largest, strongest ship in the world they called ‘unsinkable’ hit disaster during its maiden voyage.
Yet when Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s Titanic – The Musical was launched on Broadway in 1997 it didn’t sink – it soared!
At the 1997 Tony Awards, it swept the board, winning five statuettes.
Maury Yeston, writer of music and lyrics for Titanic – The Musical, sent a personal note to WKLOS which said: “Titanic was not only registered in Liverpool.
“We know her bell, as well as her 900 portholes – were crafted by a firm in St Helens.
“And we know that most of the crew was also made up of Liverpool natives, and that the long corridor on Deck E was known as ‘Scotland Road’ after the Scouse thoroughfare.”
This show examines the causes, the conditions and the real-life characters involved in this ever-fascinating disaster drama.
WKLOS, now in its 62nd year, is one of the leading amateur musical theatre societies in the UK.
It last performed the production at Liverpool Empire in 2005, winning the NODA Best Musical Award that same year.
It received acclaim from critics and customers alike, receiving standing ovations at each performance.
WKLOS chairman Ray Davies said: “This is a great piece of theatre and one of WKLOS’s pride and joys.
“This show is rarely performed in the UK but is an absolute treat.
“It is wonderful that we are able to return with Titanic as part of the anniversary event.”
WKLOS is also giving the public the opportunity to be a part of its special production, with Titanic workshops on September 5 and 12, followed by open auditions for all roles on September 18 and 25.


 Whats On

Ttitanic The Musical

WKLOS is delighted to announce the return of one of its most successful productions. The multi award-winning Broadway production TITANIC - THE MUSICAL, returns to the Liverpool Empire from Tue 5th – Sat 9th June 2012 for 6 performances only.
In the centenary year of the ship’s tragic sinking, WKLOS sail home with the musical they last performed in 2005, for a fitting and momentous occasion as part of Liverpool’s Titanic 1912-2012 programme of events.
A joyous, colossal, breathtaking and heartbreaking show that captures the scope and humanity that took place during the ship’s historic voyage. Experience the splendour and grandeur of TITANIC - The Musical.