Sting's Musical Finds a Broadway Home...
February 12, 2014 

Singer-songwriter Sting's new musical "The Last Ship" has found a nice berth on Broadway.

Producer Jeffrey Seller said Wednesday that the show — inspired by Sting's memories of growing up in a shipbuilding community in northeast England — will start performances Sept. 30 at the Neil Simon Theatre. Opening night will be Oct. 26.

"The words are there. The music is there. It's time to get into the room and make the play," said Seller, who has won Tony Awards for "Rent," ''Avenue Q" and "In the Heights." ''We look forward to getting to work."

The story centers on a man from a seafaring town who travels the world for 14 years only to return to find the shipyard's future in grave danger and his sweetheart engaged to someone else. Sting, who was raised in northeast England, has been working on it for four years.

"People ask if it's autobiographical. The only real answer is I think it's emotionally autobiographical but it's not autobiographical. There's no rock singer in 'The Last Ship.' But I certainly think that Sting is inspired by his youth and he's working through a lot of emotions that all of us are working with as we get older," said Seller.

The musical has a story by "Red" playwright John Logan and "Next to Normal" writer Brian Yorkey. It will be directed by Joe Mantello, who helmed "Wicked" and have choreography by Steven Hoggett, who did the same for "Once."

Before coming to Broadway, "The Last Ship" will make its world premiere next summer at Chicago's Bank of America Theatre.

It will star Michael Esper, who was on Broadway in "American Idiot" and "The Lyons" and Rachel Tucker, an Irish singer and actress who has been in "Wicked" in London. The cast also includes Jimmy Nail, Aaron Lazar, Sally AnnTriplett, Collin Kelly-Sordelet and Fred Applegate.

The sets and costumes will be by Tony nominee David Zinn, the lighting design will be by Tony winner Christopher Akerlind and the sound design will be by Tony winner Brian Ronan.

Sting, a 16-time Grammy Award winner and former lead singer of The Police, last year released a new CD also called "The Last Ship," which inspired the show. A concert he gave of the songs will be broadcast Feb. 21 on PBS.

"Many of those songs are in the show, some of those songs are not in the show, and he's already written new songs that are in the show that are not on that CD," said Seller. "It's Sting's singular expression of this play but it is not the play."

Sting's foray into musical theater comes amid a surge in singer-songwriters from the world of pop and rock aiming for stages. Sting joins a list that includes Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow, John Mellencamp, Sarah McLachlan, Dave Stewart, Tori Amos, Edie Brickell, David Byrne, Fatboy Slim, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello.

It's tricky territory even for the biggest music stars. Elton John was humbled by the failed "Lestat" but found success with "Billy Elliot" and "The Lion King." U2's Bono and The Edge finally got on track with "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark," after numerous postponed openings. And Lauper won the Tony last year with "Kinky Boots." But then there's "The Capeman" by Paul Simon, regarded as one of Broadway's biggest flops.

"I have continually been impressed by and rewarded by Sting's depth of musical knowledge," Seller said. "Sting certainly came to this never having written a musical but he has been an extraordinary student of musical theater, he's an extraordinary collaborator and he has been an ideal artist in making this play."

(c) Associated Press by Mark Kennedy

COMMENTS 0

RECENT STORIES

Feb 11, 2014

Billboard: Paul Simon and Sting Q&A: Tour Mates on Shared Music DNA and Future 'Writing'...

A conversation with Sting and Paul Simon at the launch of their On Stage Together tour... Their tour is called On Stage Together, but right now Sting and Paul Simon are side by side backstage at Houston's Toyota Center after a long opening night sound check, exuding both confidence and a sense of "what-have-we-wrought?" excitement. The trek will take the duo to 21 North American cities through March 16 and is far more than a mere you play/I pay co-billing; in Houston the two played 10 of the seamless two-hour and 45-minute show's 30 songs together, while their 14 combined band members floated in and out of Simon and Sting's individual sets...
Feb 10, 2014

Paul Simon and Sting at American Airlines Center...

On paper, the pairing perplexed. Paul Simon, one of pop music's pre-eminent craftsmen, joining forces with Sting, a polished, multi-platinum superstar at the other end of the sonic spectrum. Once the shock receded a bit, similarities emerged - each embraces a polyrhythmic songwriting style, both are intimately familiar with world music and, if nothing else, Simon and Sting could commiserate about leaving high-profile bands and striking out on their own. So, it was with guarded optimism a sizable crowd poured into the American Airlines Center Sunday night (about 25 percent of the upper deck was curtained off), for only the second performance of the "On Stage Together" tour. In practice, the pairing pleased - and surprisingly so...