Titanic family treads the board

TAKING part in theatrical productions is nothing new for one Ipswich family but appearing in their latest show has seen them cross the generation divide like never before.

TAKING part in theatrical productions is nothing new for one Ipswich family but appearing in their latest show has seen them cross the generation divide like never before.

For when Margaret and Colin Mudd and their two sons take to the stage for Titanic the Musical it will be a poignant tribute to a tragic family member who died on board the ill-fated ship.

When the Titanic embarked on its maiden voyage in 1912, one of the passengers setting sail for what he believed would be a new life was 18-year-old Thomas Cupper Mudd.

Thomas, who would have been Colin's great uncle, had travelled from the family home near Halesworth to board the Titanic in Southampton and was planning to join two of his brothers in America.

One of 13 children born to Thomas and Elizabeth Mudd in the village of Huntingfield, Thomas was travelling as a second class passenger on board the luxury liner. The youngster hadn't been due to travel on the ill-fated Titanic, but had made a last minute exchange of tickets with the son of a vicar, and died when the great ship struck an iceberg and sank.

The Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society's production of Titanic the Musical will take to the Regent Theatre stage next week and will see Margaret, 55, star as a first class passenger, Matthew, 31, play a crew member, Jonathan, 28, portray a stoker working in the boiler rooms and Colin, 59, working backstage.

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Becoming part of the show has inspired the family to look more into the background of their connection with Titanic and Colin has been investigating the history with his aunt - Thomas's niece - Sheila Parkin.

He said: “I have always known about it but haven't delved too much into it before.

“It isn't a nasty feeling to think about him being on the boat and doing this show feels like commemorating his memory. It's nice to think that everyone will be able to remember what happened with this show.

“It is an honour to have a connection with something like Titanic that people are always interested in and Titanic has a certain mystique to it.

“When a show is going on I always like to have a little look from the wings and you get a thrill from being a part of it, but I think this time it will feel much more poignant.”

And for Margaret, Matthew and Jonathan, appearing in a show that has such a strong family connection means they want their performances to be better than ever.

Margaret said: “I don't think there has been extra pressure put on us, but we will want to do extra justice to it all.

“It feels like the right thing to do for Thomas's memory. You can't help but think that actually that did happen to a relative of yours.

“It was freezing cold and pitch black and for an 18-year-old boy by himself you can't imagine the terror he must have been feeling.”

Titanic The Musical will be at the Regent Theatre from Wednesday April 18 to Saturday April 21.

Tickets can be booked by calling 01473 433100 or visiting www.ipswichregent.com

Three members of Evening Star staff are part of the cast in this production.

AFTER boarding Titanic in Southampton, Thomas Cupper Mudd sent a postcard to his mother when the boat stopped to pick up more passengers in Queenstown, Ireland.

The postcard, which he had asked to be passed on to his sister Edith said: “Dear mother, I arrived in Southampton safely.

“The Titanic is a splendid boat and you hardly know you are moving.

“I will write more fully later, your loving son.”

That was the last anyone heard from Thomas Mudd.

The postcard was sold at auction in 1998 by Edith's grandson, who had inherited it from his mother.

THIS weekend will mark the 95th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.

Titanic sunk after striking an iceberg late at night on April 14 and she sank at 2.20am on April 15.

In Southampton, where Titanic first set sail, a series of events have been planned to mark the occasion.

Of the more than 1,500 people who died, 500 were from Southampton, including many of Titanic's crew.

The city will host a number of talks, exhibitions and guided walks. There will also be a commemorative service at the Titanic Memorial on Sunday.

For more information visit www.titaniccities.org.uk