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A boat in the evening at the Gaiety

THE Manx Operatic Society is working on one of the most expensive and challenging productions of its 60-year history.

Titanic the Musical will be hitting the stage of the Gaiety Theatre in March, complete with custom sets and computer graphics to make the audience feel as if they are really on board the ship.

Along with the challenge of casting more than 50 parts there was also the issue of sinking the Titanic on stage.

MOS chairman Karl Clegg refused to give away how the stunt would be pulled off, saying: 'You will need to get your tickets and see how it's done - don't worry you won't get wet!'

Auditions for the show took place last week.

Mr Clegg said: 'We were bowled over last weekend when we came to the auditions.

'The talent we had to pick from was the best I can remember.

'We had many old faces coming along plus some new and exciting talent trying out for the first time.'

He added: ''We are excited to be working with Scott St Martyn on his first show for the society.

'He's an award winning director who knows Titanic well and has got everyone really fired up for the production.

'He's made everyone feel at ease and his style of directing is invigorating.'

David Lyons has been cast as Thomas Andrews, the ship's designer.

Tony Hawkes plays Mr J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line and Chris Maybury takes on the part of Captain E.J. Smith who had to make the decision to abandon ship.

The original Broadway musical won the 1997 Tony Award for Best Musical and the release of James Cameron's film in December 1997, although not having anything to do with the musical, has helped fuel worldwide interest in Titanic.

The musical plays out the dreams and aspirations of various characters who were all real passengers and crew on that fateful Atlantic crossing nearly 100 years ago – from the stoker, played by David Cowley, who wanted to get away from the coal mines, to the ship's first officer Murdoch, played by Nigel Thijs, contemplating the responsibility of command.

Kate Bottomley plays Kate McGowan, one of many third class passengers all dreaming of a better life in America.

Cleveland Medal winner Terry Qualtrough also joins the cast to play Chief Steward Etches.

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