Titanic show aims to honour the dreamers
Composer Maury Yeston is all set to sell his musical version of the Titanic tragedy to me, ahead of last week's announcement of it coming to Blackpool Opera House.
But as he’s been chatting to journalists up and down the country, I’m the first one who knows just what the show is like, having been in an amateur version a few years back.
It’s not an easy concept to sell: “Titanic: The Musical”. People get the wrong idea, but tragic events have played out on the musical stage before, and will again.
“Only you could understand the nature of eternal friendships and family in this show, from people who have put it on,” Maury replies, when I tell him I know the show well.
He’s proud to have taken the real stories from passengers and crew aboard the historic ship, and to have honoured their memory in music.
“One of the things I wanted to show in Titanic is that it was a divisive world of class and structure where third class people would die in disproportional numbers and class division went down with that ship,” Maury explained.
“You lived, you died by what you were. The really important thing is to do honour to those who had dreams. They were aboard the ‘ship of dreams’, designed to be its own lifeboat but it failed.
“We all have dreams and we dream and strive nevertheless. I had to honour that. Every name of every person on our ship was a real person.”
Maury was drawn to the ‘quintessentially British’ story through his own background - his dad came from London and he has family in the UK.
While Titanic was a big hit on Broadway when it launched in 1997, running for nearly two years and winning five Tony Awards including best musical, it’s only come to professional interest here in recent years. And Maury is thrilled it will soon tour the UK.
“It’s not only the notion of a quintessentially English story coming to its proper home where folks will understand it in only the way folks do when a story belongs to them,” he said. “But also, the resonance in this production of it being staged with 20 people playing the 35 characters.
"It’s incredibly convincing with these versatile actors having to play various people from the different classes or ship’s crew.”
* Titanic: The Musical, Opera House, Blackpool, July 9 to 14 2018.