Titanic anniversary: Hanley show among series of events to mark liner tragedy
FANS of the Titanic story will get to relive the drama minute-by-minute through a new theatrical show taking place on the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
The doomed liner, skippered by Hanley-born Captain Edward Smith, was supposed to be a floating palace for the great and the good.
But its maiden voyage turned to tragedy when it struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, with the loss of 1,500 lives.
Now a series of events have been organised in North Staffordshire to commemorate the sinking of the world's most famous ship.
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It will include a Titanic command performance at Hanley's Victoria Hall next Saturday, featuring film footage, recitals, songs, and dancing.
Ray Johnson, director of the Staffordshire Film Archive, is one of the organisers of the weekend activities.
He said: "This is a commemoration of international importance.
"With Captain Smith being at the centre of the Titanic story, I felt our city must be part of this."
Theatregoers will find out why the ship was unique and will chart its journey across the Atlantic, as it heaved out of Southampton harbour, bound for New York.
They will join steerage passengers as they follow the sighting of the iceberg, the collision and actions of the crew, and the call for lifeboats to be prepared.
The event, which starts at 8pm, will finish at the stroke of midnight – the time when the call was made.
Other highlights on the night will include performances by Sean Cannon, from The Dubliners, and the Potteries premiere of a specially arranged sequence from Titanic – The Musical.
Tickets cost £12.50 and include donations to Arch and the Donna Louise Children's Hospice.
On Sunday next week, a free drop-in event is also being held at Mitchell Arts Centre, in Hanley, starting at 12.30pm. People can hear how the Titanic has been remembered in songs and film.
It will include a screening of A Night To Remember, and a new film produced in the Midlands called Titanic Love.
The memorial day at the Mitchell will culminate in a debate at 7pm about the controversy surrounding Captain Smith.
Mr Johnson, from Hanford, said: "We want local people to come along and have their say."
To help meet the insatiable demand for all things Titanic, a 70-minute CD is also being launched in aid of charity in North Staffordshire.
Entitled Captain Smith's Titanic Collection, it includes numbers by performers such as The Phoenix Singers, Virginia Meir, Nine Tenths Below, and Titanic Steerage Band.
Burslem-based Titanic Brewery has also produced a series of special beers to mark the centenary of the disaster.
The ales have been given names like White Star, Maiden Voyage, All Aboard, Last Porter Call, Lookout, and Iceberg.
A brewery spokesman said: "There are many pubs throughout the country who are holding events to commemorate the centenary of the Titanic and stocking our beer."