111 years after the sinking of the Titanic, the story of the ocean liner is as popular as ever if the turnout and audience reaction on opening night is anything to go by.
Titanic The Musical is a stirring and respectful production focusing on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the ship’s passengers who each boarded with stories and personal ambitions of their own.
The first act interweaves the stories of actual passengers with those of the building of and expectations of the ship, the largest man made moving object in the world at the time.
It’s a big story to tell and a story that is sensitive and respectful of the disaster and those who died on board and in the icy waters of the Atlantic.
Standout moments for me were:
No Moon - As the iceberg strikes and looms over the ship
Ida and Isidor Straus - The owners of Macy’s. It’s well known that they refused to be separated as the ship sank and they died together on board. The actual coat Ida gave her maid to stay warm in the lifeboat is actually part of the new gallery in Titanic Belfast.
Act II as the crew downplayed what happened to keep the passengers calm as they put on life jackets and got into life boats. Again an actual life jacket from the Titanic is in Titanic Belfast.
Throughout the performance the little factoids of information connect with each person in the audiences own Titanic story or memory. A memory of a family member working in the shipyard, a great grandparent working on the ship, a memory connected to the movie, or from a school project on the sinking or a previous visit to the Titanic connections on Belfast’s Maritime Mile.
The musical highlights some of the many reasons that led up to the maritime disaster: excessive speed, ignoring warnings, unusually southerly icebergs, the calm seas giving a false sense of security, the bulkheads that didn’t go high enough, the inadequate lifeboat numbers.
It ended with a beautifully touching tribute to those who died with nods to the personal losses of those on board, a husband, a partner, and the loss of a future.
The ending was worth the wait and the audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation, their own personal connections to the Titanic remembered in the city it was built.
Titanic The Musical runs at the Grand Opera House until Saturday 8th April