Titanic

 

CAST LIST

PRODUCTION TEAM

               
Thomas Andrews James O'Gorman Bellboy Danny Woodward Charles Clarke Tony Mathews Director & Choreographer John Taylor
J. Bruce Ismay Ian Lambert Isidor Strauss Rob Searle Caroline Neville Karin Nelson Musical Director Debbie Warren
Captain Smith Dave Beavis Ida Strauss Maureen King Jim Farrell John Chambers Stage Management  
1st Officer Murdoch Simon Nicol John J. Astor Migui Rowlanes Kate McGowan Lucy Davey Sound Dave Korman
2nd Officer Lightolller Glen Roberts Madeleine Astor Jacky Cook Kate Mullins Samantha Leitch Lighting Ben Morrison
3rd Officer Pitman Steve Leitch Benjamin Guggenheim Martin Phillips Kate Murphy Clare Allsop    
The Major/Fourth Man Steve Leitch Madame Aubart Kristen Callaway Andrew Latimer Frank Worthy    
4th Officer Boxall Daniel Webb John B Thayer Philip Talanage Stewardess Robinson Celena Bain    
Taylor/Rogers Daniel Webb Marion Thayer Judy Abbott Stewardess Hutchinson Sally Holloway Photography James Cook
Quartermaster Hitchen Karl Cottle Jack Thayer (age 9) Kane Prenderville The Da Micos Dancers Germaine Harris    
Harold Bride Brian Minchin George Widener Martin Rolls   Pamela Bongkiyung    
Frederick Barrett Shane Wolfe Eleanor Widener Brenda Manuel-Warner Stevedore/Steward Adam Graystone    
Frederick Fleet Kevin Quilty Charlotte Cardoza Rosemary Minchin Stewardesses Alison Kelin    
Joseph Bell/Hartley Tony Wall Alice Beane Pat Thompsett   Maureen Connolly    
Henry Etches Cris Shepley Edgar Beane Mick Thompsett        

 

Surrey Advertiser

Theo Spring

OK, so we knew how the story would end, but the music and staging, the costumes and vocals all blended to entertain regally.

We met Titanic's owner J Bruce Ismay to whom Ian Lambert gave the constant urging to reach New York in record time - an attitude placated calmly by Captain Smith with Dave Beavis acting and looking the seasoned seaman.

The show opened with the fine voice of James O'Gorman as Titanic's designer extolling the virtues of this unsinkable ship then returning at the close the same plans where he could now see the weaknesses.

Of the cast of 43, many had large, cameo or double roles. Notable was Shane Wolfe as the Stoker joining Brian Minchin as the radioman in The Night Was Alive - just one of the well thought out numbers.

We met the three Kates - Irish third class passengers led by Lucy Davey as the pregnant Kate McGowan succeeding in snaffling Jim Farrell (John Chambers) with a promise of marriage - the good voices of all four contributing much to the show. Jacky Cook as the glamorous young Mrs Astor was also in excellent voice.

Passengers, cargo and supplies were moved elegantly on board with director of John Taylor also responsible for choreography, set design and build. Pat Thompsett contributed comedy as the social climbing Alice Beane and to Kevin Quilty as Lookout fell the dreaded iceberg alert.

With the characterisations so real, it was a shock when the deaths were revealed, donated by black eye masks.

 

 

NODA

Lee Power  (Regional Representative, District 5)


General

A thoroughly enjoyable, and as one might imagine £ given the subject matter at times highly moving, evening's entertainment. Wallington are blessed with a great deal of strength in depth when it comes to the performers at their disposal, of both sexes and all ages, and that was crucial with this production: Titanic being a show that really tests the personnel resources of a company to the full with its enormous ensemble cast requirements. In this case, all 43 members of the Company who were performing had specific character credits in the programme, and no fewer than 11 of them were employed in double and even triple roles.

Players

Given the "enormous ensemble cast" to which I referred above, it would be unrealistic to try to give a meaningful critique on the performance of every member of the Company, but notwithstanding the absence of any real 'leads' as such in Titanic there were still a dozen or so among the large cast whom I feel warrant particular mention. (NB. The show is written with considerably more opportunities  for male performers than female, and this fact is, inevitably reflected in my review.)

James O'Gorman (Thomas Andrews - the Designer) opened the show with a very professional rendition of In Every Age, an important piece given that it sets the tone for what is to follow. James's diction and tonal pitching was impeccable, and he was entirely plausible in his interpretation of the (almost naively) enthusiastic engineer, brandishing his blueprints £ cleverly duplicated on the large screen behind him £ with relish. His good work was maintained throughout, particularly in his two trios with Ian Lambert and Dave Beavis (The Largest Moving Object and The Blame).

Ian Lambert (J. Bruce Ismay - the Owner) cleverly gradually developed his character as the show progressed: initially charmingly proud of the vessel, and then, in turn, given to boyish braggadocio, then relentless bullying of the Captain (to go ever faster!), and finally downright unpleasant buck-passing and naked self-preservation when it all went wrong. Ian possesses a fine and rounded bass-baritone singing voice that was used to excellent effect in the aforementioned Largest Moving Object and Blame trios.

Simon Nichol took on the, seemingly, thankless role of William McMaster Murdoch, First Officer of the Titanic, the man all too frequently painted as 'the villain of the piece' when it comes to Titanic's  sinking, and notably unsympathetically portrayed in the Oscar-winning 1997 Hollyvvood movie. Simon gave this controversial character some considerable depth, and his tender delivery of To Be a Captain was very moving - one of the highlights of Act 1.

Brian Minchin (Harold Bride) gave a charming performance as the unappreciated (except by Frederick Barrett) and casually disregarded Titanic radio operator. I found myself completely absorbed by his rendition of The Night Was Alive.

Shane Wolfe (Frederick Barrett) was perfectly cast as the melancholy, and ultimately doomed, ship's stoker: never far, throughout, from an other-worldly, haunted 'glazed-eyed' look. This being most evident during his solo Barrett's Song. Vocally, the role requires a light 'bari-tenor' performance - which he comfortably delivered - but Shane is clearly still very young, and such is his manner and build that one can't help feeling there is a huge baritone voice in there somewhere (akin to Bryn Terfel to whom, as it happens. Shane bears more than a passing resemblance) waiting to be unleashed in the fullness of time!

Kevin Quilty (Frederick Fleet - the Lookout) sang beautifully, and was most captivating during No Moon and No Moon Reprise towards the end of Act 1, singing from his lookout's lofty perch.

Rod Searle & Maureen King (Isidor & Ida Strauss) came close to 'stealing' the entire show with their moving Still duet towards the end of the evening.

Pat & Mick Thompsett (Alice & Edgar Beane) were very entertaining as the 'social climber' and her salesman husband (what fun they must have had, as a married couple, playing this married couple on stage!). Pat, in particular, shone during her tongue- twisting Gilbert & Sullivan-esque First Class Roster number.

John Chambers & Lucy Davey (Jim Farrell & Kate McGowan) turned in a very touching double act as the star-crossed young Irish emigrant lovers. Their accents were authentic and consistent throughout (is either, or are both, Irish?). and Lucy led the big ensemble Lady's Maid number with aplomb.

Director

In this particular production the Director, in my book, was the true 'star' of the show! What on Earth would amateur theatre do without the likes of John Taylor? John not only directed (and choreographed) this production, but also designed and built the set. His fertile imagination was evident in every aspect of the performance: from the physical balance of the performers on stage; to the subtle interaction of lighting, sound and movement; to the more dramatic moments involving the severely capsized and sinking ship (so difficult to get right, as he did, without evoking comical images); and finally to the immensely moving finale, employing masks on the characters who had perished (the majority!) but had returned in spirit, illustrating the dreadful enormity of this appalling historical episode. Bravo!

Musical Director

Debbie Warren is an extremely capable and accomplished MD, and had clearly marshalled the large ensemble to good effect. Despite the presence of some very strong voices, nobody stood out inappropriately during choral numbers (except, of course, where the score required various principals to sing in counterpoint to the main melody). Debbie and Linda Davies (on keyboard and percussion respectively) provided accompaniment throughout that was always in keeping with proceedings on stage, and never intrusive. One quickly disregarded the absence of a more substantial band - which is virtually impossible anyway given the limited space in such a small studio theatre as the Charles Cryer.

Set Design

On my way to the theatre, being familiar with it myself, I was intrigued to see how, in such an intimate venue, a company could do justice to such a large production as Titanic. My apprehension was unfounded. I have never seen the stage in the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre so large ...or at least appearing so large! This was the illusion skillfully pulled off by John Taylor's clever minimalistic set design. The entire theatre - stage and auditorium - became the deck(s) of the ship, dominated by the bridge. This was at its most effective towards the end of the show during the ship's sinking, when the illusion of the deck tilting (augmented as it was by railings to which the performers clung as their feet appeared to go from beneath them) was so convincing that a number of the audience - myself included! - actually found ourselves grasping the sides of our own seats! Excellent!

Stage Management & Props

The best compliment one can pay any theatrical crew is that... you barely notice them! This was the case with the crew of Will Harris and Tracey Paice, led by Janet Harris as Stage Manager. All changes were conducted quickly, quietly and efficiently; and (as far as I could tell) all props were in the right place at the right time - where necessary, being entirely in keeping with the period. (And I loved the rolling tea trolley! How was that done? Coiled up heavy duty rubber bands or something?)

Lighting & Sound/Audio Visual

Ben Morrison and Dave Korman did a splendid job with lighting and sound/audio visual respectively. One's eye was always drawn to the right place by the lighting, whether it was used dramatically or subtly, and it complemented John's set perfectly. Imaginative ideas for additional sound effects, and the use of various projected images (viz. Thomas Andrews's blueprints referred to above, the iconic image of Titanic from the front of the programme before the show started, etc ), were well conceived and effectively executed.

Costumes

Janet Harris, Barbara Windsor and Yvonne Mount captured the period (and identified the characters, coming as they did from various social echelons) perfectly with their selection and distribution of costumes. I notice that Carousel Costume Hire and the Miller Centre were credited in the programme, but I'm sure that not all of the costumes were hired: a great deal of trouble clearly went into hunting down or making garments appropriate to the period and the piece.

NB. Am I allowed one tiny little 'niggle'? Although Danny Woodward was otherwise excellent as the young Bellboy, it is inconceivable that in 1912 (or even today, frankly) firms such as White Star or Cunard would have allowed such long hair. It was something of a distraction, and detracted from the authenticity a bit. A haircut perhaps? (Oh, the sacrifices we have to make for art's sake! Grin!)

Programme

What a lovely programme James O'Gorman put together: A4 size instead of the usual A5; with the colourful "iconic image of Titanic" (to which I referred above) on the front cover; a series of 9 portholes bearing various thanks and good wishes on the back cover; large print inside that was easy to read (even in half-light - always important in the theatre!); a welcome from the Chairman, Director's notes about the piece and a comprehensive cv of both the Director and the Musical Director; and everything the audience could want to know about the characters/cast (including a photographic collage of them by Jacky Cook, to which I found myself referring repeatedly), the scenes and the musical numbers.

Front of House

The Front of House team (managed by Tracey Paice) did not wear name badges, so I cannot identify any individuals, but I was - as was everybody - warmly and courteously received, presented with a programme, and directed to my seat.

 

Thank you to everybody involved in Wallington's production of Titanic:
it was a pleasure, and I look forward to Pure Gold and The Pirates of Penzance.