On the 110th Anniversary of the Titanic, The Marrollo Project treated Melbourne to Titanic The Musical: In Concert at Melbourne Town Hall.
This is not the story the majority of us are familiar with of Jack and Rose. Instead we meet a smorgasbord of characters, all who have their own story to tell. The third class, second class, upper class and staff of the ill-fated ship all learn that despite social differences, fate is not so selective.
With music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Peter Stone it’s no surprise that this show is a five-time Tony Award winning production.
The all Australian creative team has assembled a cast of some of the top voices in Australia, led by the incomparable Anthony Warlow.
Director Theresa Borg has made good use of the space, allowing the orchestra to be the star of the show. The use of minimal props is considered and effective. The show keeps pace and has clear direction.
Stephen Gray, the Musical Director of this Titanic show, should be commended. Gray has assembled an incredibly talented 26 piece orchestra and ensemble of vocalists. There was not one weak link. The orchestra was absolutely on fire and did not miss a beat. They were tremendous and the real stars of the show.
The cast equally poured their hearts into this show. The diction was exceptional and the talent we were treated to was nothing short of wonderful. They were, however, let down by the sound levels. We often couldn’t hear much from the vocalists, particularly throughout solo moments and there was a lot of mic interference which was very distracting.
As Captain E. J Smith, Warlow’s vocals were on point as always. Juan Jackson as ship designer and builder Thomas Andrews and Kane Alexander as owner of the ship J. Bruce Ismay, wonderfully displayed the hubris of man and how detrimental it can be.
Accents were a bit hit and miss and when the inevitability of the ship's fate was cemented, it was hard to accept that the characters knew they were close to death as the focus was on the score over the acting.
A particularly touching moment came in Act two, between Isidor and Ida Straus (Martin Croft and Natalia Gamsu) when they chose to not be apart and to die as they had lived, together.
While the whole cast showed just how much talent we have in Australia, special mention needs to be made for Johanna Allen and John O’Hara who made the absolute most of their stage time, gifting us with their delightful vocals and comedic timing. Callum Warrender also blew the audience away with his stunning tenor voice. Naming all the special moments each cast member had would take too long, but they all deserve individual acknowledgement for their performances.
Lighting designer Jason Bovaird made wonderful use of lights to show the approaching iceberg, inviting the audience to experience the sight of it growing closer to the ship. A lot of lighting cues throughout the night seemed very delayed or missed, which resulted in the audience searching for who was singing. Choreography by Katie Ditchburn was simple and effective. The dance section in Act 1, however could have been emitted or altered as it didn’t highlight ensembles abilities as dancers but did highlight the smaller stage.
Hopefully the technical issues will be fixed for the remainder of the run as they did detract from what would have been a top rate concert.
There’s a reason so many people know the story of ‘the unsinkable ship’, the RMS Titanic and how in the final hours of 14th April 1912, those on the ship witnessed both the best of humanity and the worst. 1517 men, women and children lost their lives on the maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, after it collided with an iceberg and slowly sank. It was one of the most tragic disasters of the 20th Century. Thankfully this concert is anything but.
Photos: Paul Mulligan