Titanic – The Musical arrives on stage at the Kings Theatre, marking the 110th anniversary of its sinking

Jo was Maria in the Portsmouth Players’ 1992 production The Sound of Music, while Charlotte played Gretl.

Now they are reunited as actress and co-director respectively in the Kings in-house production of Titanic – The Musical.

“It was the first performance she did,” recalls Jo. “And it was our first time working together, so it’s kind of funny to come back under slightly different circumstances.”

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The new show is a gigantic undertaking, a true community project with over 100 cast and crew drawn from the local amateur drama scene.

The musical tells the story of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic, which left Southampton on April 10, 1912. She sank with the loss of over 1,500 lives after striking an iceberg on April 15.

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Jo, who plays passenger Ida Straus, got involved after being encouraged to audition through the players, “and then with Charlotte involved, it was even more exciting to have the chance to do it together,” she adds.

Titanic – The Musical is at the Kings Theater from April 20-24, 2022. Pictured are the cast and directors. Photo by Steve Spurgin

Charlotte co-leads with local scene veteran and Guide Special Achievement Award winner John-Paul McCrohon.

Charlotte says: “I worked at The Kings before – the last community project produced by The Kings was a Bugsy Malone youth production, pre-Covid, and I did the assistant on that.

“JP is a key part of the local amateur drama scene, so we both knew each other but had never worked together.

“It’s such a gigantic piece with a relatively tight rehearsal schedule to put on such a big show, it felt like it needed more than a brain and a body on it – it needed a combined effort.”

Jo Alldridge as Ida Strauss

And being a community-led project, rehearsals need to accommodate day jobs and education.

“We had to be very organised,” explains Charlotte, “the challenge was to take into account that there are a lot of local amateur artists who all have their own daily lives, but who also want to play the scale of the production that does justice to the theater and the play.

“So how do you manage to fit that scale of production into the daily schedules of ‘normal’ people rather than professional actors?”

Jo adds with a laugh, “It’s been pretty intense.”

Co-director Charlotte Alldridge. Photo by Steve Spurgin

Describing her character, Jo said, “I play Ida Straus, who is married to Isidor. They are a more mature couple who have been married for 40 years and it is a very poignant story with what happens to them.

“They’re all real people, which has been so interesting for us as actors working on it, you can go and research your particular character and bring a whole new level of understanding to the role.

“She’s exactly the same age as me when she died, and I’ve been married for almost 40 years, so there are a lot of little things that look alike.”

Charlotte says: “It’s one of the greatest joys of the play – most people know part of the story, but the fact that almost all the characters are based on real people on the ship means that it really invites the audience into everyone’s hopes and dreams and ambitions as they boarded.

“You become so immersed in these stories that audiences will almost forget the inevitable will happen, and when you’re so invested in these characters, it’s all the more devastating when the ship sinks; not only because of the loss of people in terms of all those numbers, but also because you understand the loss of all those hopes and dreams because you followed the characters through those stories.

And the impact of the disaster is still being felt, as Jo says: “What struck me, what I hadn’t really engaged with before, was how much, even today, in the south, how much it still impacts the lives of people in the neighborhood.

“The other day a guy came to work on our roof and he said his grandfather was a stoker on the Titanic and he started telling me his family story – he left eight children with no income or support.

“It still ripples through the generations.”

All net proceeds and donations from the night of the Titanic Gala on Thursday, April 21 will go to the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) Humanitarian Appeal for Ukraine.