‘Titanic’, the ship of dreams brought to life

Pictured at their last rehersdal in the Webster Theatre on Monday are the cast of the musical Titanic first performed back in 2005.
Pictured at their last rehersdal in the Webster Theatre on Monday are the cast of the musical Titanic first performed back in 2005.

THE STORY of the ill-fated maiden voyage of R.M.S. Titanic which sank in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, was delightfully and yet poignantly portrayed by members of Arbroath Musical Society at the Webster Memorial Theatre this week.

Known as ‘the ship of dreams’, and carrying 1,324 passengers and a crew and service staff of 899, many with aspirations of a new and better life in the USA, Titanic set sail from Southampton almost 100 years ago on April 10. After stops in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland, she headed across the Atlantic for New York but, as we all know, she never arrived.

The show opens with a prologue where Thomas Andrews the architect is seen poring over the blueprints of the ship that was hailed as unsinkable. The curtain then rises and reveals the dock at Southampton where there is a great hustle, bustle and excitement as passengers arrive.

We were then introduced to a whole load of different first, second and third class passengers as well as the crew and the owner of the liner. Most of the first class passengers were American, the second class a mix, with one lady in particular desperate to climb the social ladder. The third class passengers were mostly Irish and included three Kates, all of whom had dreams of becoming successful in America. These dreams were, of course, all shattered on that fateful night when Titanic hit an iceberg.

Congratulations go to Jim Hutcheon, producer, and Richard Allen, musical director, for bringing to life Peter Stone’s story and Mary Veston’s music and lyrics with such a vibrant company of vocalists and actors. Everyone who took part did a great job of helping us to relive one of the saddest disasters of the 20th century.

Titanic is a show set around many interesting characters all of whom had names of the ship’s passengers and crew. The principal players - Jonathan Milne, the designer and builder; Bruce Ismay, the owner; Jim Ramsay, Captain E.J. Smith; Frederick Barret, the stoker; Josh Wright, lookout; Jamie Watson, first class steward; Fraser McGlyn, bandmaster Marian Allan, Eileen Masson and Sara White, the three Kates; John Hayes, radioman and Susan Robertson, social climber - all turned in great performances. Each, in their own way, presented an authentic portrayal of their character both in singing and speaking voice as did many others who had cameo roles.

Chorus numbers were well sung and although many of the tunes are not familiar there are some including ‘Godspeed Titanic’, ‘Lady’s Maid’, ‘No Moon’ and ‘We’ll meet tomorrow’ that are both pleasingly melodic and dramatic and the final words sung by young George Cowan were particularly poignant as he asked God to hold everyone in the palm of His ... : the final word was missing!

Ewan Stewart, son of local entertainer Andy, who played the character Murdoch in the film version of Titanic, produced a number of voice-overs heard throughout the performance.

The 15-strong orchestra, scenery, props and lighting (eerie at times) all contributed to what can only be described as a superb re-enactment of the demise of the ill-fated liner and her passengers 100 years ago.

The extensive cast list and acknowledgements are detailed in the souvenir programme.

Titanic runs until tomorrow when there is a matinee and an evening performance. Tickets can be purchased at the Webster Theatre box office.

Programme note: With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic fast approaching, interest is building all over the world for this historic occasion. Cruise ships will be taking descendants of Titanic passengers and many others to be part of history by being together at the site where Titanic sank on its maiden and fateful voyage. They will pay their respects at a special Memorial Service to take place at the exact time Titanic sank 100 years before.