Based on real people aboard the most legendary ship in the world, Titanic The Musical is a stirring production focusing on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of her passengers who each boarded with stories and personal ambitions of their own.

All innocently unaware of the fate awaiting them: the Third Class immigrants' dream of a better life in America, the Second Class imagine they too can join the lifestyles of the rich and famous, while the millionaire Barons of the First Class anticipate legacies lasting forever.

In the final hours of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, collided with an iceberg and 'the unsinkable ship' slowly sank.

It was one of the most tragic disasters of the 20th Century with 1517 men, women and children losing their lives.

Titanic The Musical set to tour the UK this spring

Award-winning American composer Maury Yeston tells Marion McMullen why he wanted to give a voice to the passengers and crew who perished on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic

Titanic The Musical has won five Tony Awards and is now about to tour the UK. How did it all begin?

We first opened on Broadway in 1997 and it is going to be a bit special to now go on tour here with the musical.

The idea that a troupe of actors will tour this show in the UK, birthplace of the ship, where the workers of Belfast, the cabin boys and maids and stewards from Liverpool, the officers and crew, the stokers and stevedores from the Midlands all created a miraculous floating city, means more to me than I can say.

I am touched that, musically, Titanic will finally be coming home, sung by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of its builders – touched, and forever grateful.

Do you have any personal links with the UK?

My dad was from London, from the East End, and I still have a lot of relatives there.

I also spent time at Clare College, in Cambridge, and I have lots of links with the UK. Titanic is fundamentally an English story. It belongs to this country.

We had six people in the cast who had grandparents who built the ship and it is a very heartfelt production.

What was the initial reaction when you talked about the idea for the musical?

Everyone thought it was crazy when I said it the mid 80s, but my friend Peter Stone, who I worked with on Nine and Grand Hotel, said 'I want to write it with you'. It's the story of the people aboard the Titanic – their aspirations and dreams.

What was the starting point to bringing the tragedy of the "unsinkable" ship to the stage?

I knew from the start the show was there to honour everyone who was on board the Titanic – from those who sacrificed their lives to save others to those who were frightened and didn't behave well.

That is just humanity, human nature. Every character who appears in the show has the name of someone who was on the ship.

Composer Maury Yeston

Do the cast play multiple roles in the show?

All the cast play several different characters so they can be first class passengers dining on Champagne and caviar and then can be playing the poorer third class passengers below decks.

We are telling all these stories along the way. We want audiences to fall in love with these people and to want to know if they survived or not.

It is extraordinary the way certain people survived and certain people didn't. I wanted to honour them all – the crew and officers and the third, second and first class passengers aboard the ship.

Did that give you a lot of satisfaction working on the musical?

What I love most about creating the show is that you hear the stories of people such as the stoker from the Midlands who was trying to escape the mines and ended up on the Titanic shovelling coal. You want to know how his story ends.

Does the story have international appeal?

I love the fact that over the last 20 years there have been so many productions around the world in Korea, Japan, Finland, all over Asia, and in London as well.

The tragedy of this ship which collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage touches so many people.

One of the things which has meant the most to me with the various different productions has been seeing the actors becoming a family simply because of the experience of doing the show together.

Your musicals such as Titanic, Nine, Grand Hotel and Death Takes A Holiday have been nominated for, and won, numerous awards. Where do you keep them all?

(Laughs) They are in a little room upstairs in my house where I have a piano. All the awards are on one shelf in there.

There's the ACE award from Buenos Aires for Nine, based also on Fellini's semi-autobiographical film 8½.

I went out to Argentina to collect it and it was really exciting. Titanic also swept the Tony Awards when it opened.

No-one expected it, but it fills me with gratitude to have written something that means so much.

*Titanic The Musical tours the UK and Ireland from April 12 – the week of Titanic's 106th anniversary. Ticket details available from and