Titanic story keeps its fascination a hundred years on

ON SONG Director Ian Clark, who also played Thomas Andrews Jr and inset, the cast.  Pictures: Sarah Standing (121967-6294 and 7946)
ON SONG Director Ian Clark, who also played Thomas Andrews Jr and inset, the cast. Pictures: Sarah Standing (121967-6294 and 7946)
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AN AUDIENCE was transported back 100 years as an amateur theatre group brought the story of Titanic to life.

Denmead Operatic Society was one of only a few groups in the country to be given a licence to perform Titanic – which is nothing to do with the 1997 blockbuster film starring Leonard DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

ON SONG The cast.  Picture: Sarah Standing (121967-7946)

ON SONG The cast. Picture: Sarah Standing (121967-7946)

This depiction of the luxury cruise liner’s doomed journey from Southampton to New York was first performed on Broadway in 1997, and last night visitors packed out Park Community School in Leigh Park to see the story of what happened in the run-up to and on the day of the ship’s demise.

Mike Gilbert, 64, of Langstone, and Kaye Lee-Wright, 40, of North End, took on the roles of Edward and Alice Beane for the show.

Mr and Mrs Beane, who were second class passengers on the ship, were one of the few survivors.

Mr Gilbert said: ‘It’s been amazing to have been a part of this.

‘It’s been fascinating learning about the person that I’ve played through reading books and researching material on the internet.’

The drama group decided to put on the production after Mrs Wright suggested to its members that it would be appropriate to mark the centenary of the ship in a special way.

William Donnelly, 51, of Gosport, played the part of Captain Edward John Smith, who went down with the vessel.

Mr Donnelly recently discovered that his grandmother’s cousin Frank Alfred Parsons, 25, was an engineer on board the ship who lost his life.

Mr Donnelly said: ‘In researching the man I had to play I realised what a fascinating character he was.

‘The performance was made even more special for me after I realised that a relative of mine was on board the Titanic.’

Spectator Graham Clarke, 67, of Waterlooville, attended the evening show with his wife Helen, 63.

Mr Clarke said: ‘We’ve really enjoyed it.

‘You felt like the audience was being taken on the journey.

‘The Titanic is part of our heritage and it’s important to still recognise what happened.’

The show will run at the school until Saturday.