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Thread: Sting's New Broadway Play

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    Sting's New Broadway Play

    Sting's-musical-The-Last-Ship-sails-and-soars-in-super-chicago-launchIt’s going to be a rockin’ fall on Broadway if last night in Chicago was any indication. The previews here have begun of “The Last Ship,” the gorgeously tuneful musical written by rock star Sting with a book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey, choreographed by Steven Hoggett and directed by Joe Mantello. “The Last Ship” is already quite sea worthy and built for a long journey.

    Enough with those metaphors. Truly, once “The Last Ship” is tweaked and polished in this out of town run, the show will be a formidable masterwork when it comes to Broadway this fall for an October opening. For one thing, the songs are delicious– actual songs with brilliant melodies, hooks and lyrics that poetically (and humorously) move along the story of a dying breed of shipbuilders in Newcastle, England.

    The story is Sting’s, although it’s only partially autobiographical. The main character, Gideon, played by star in the making Michael Esper, is a rebel who went looking for an adventure on the high seas after impregnating his teenage lover, Meg. Of course, this is not what happened to Sting, a young English teacher and jazz musician who left Newcastle for London, and became a rock star and great family man. But he obviously saw these characters around him, and now they’ve come to life.

    (Newcastle is going to become the next tourist destination in England thanks to Sting, as Highclere Castle is for “Downton Abbey.”)

    The audience last night, for the second preview, was rapturous for the songs, the set, and the actors, particularly Esper, veteran actor Fred Applegate (who pretty much steals the show as the saucy local priest), beloved British star Jimmy Nail (who finally gets his big moment in America, wow), Aaron Lazar, Sally Ann Triplett and the lovely Rachel Tucker. Joe Mantello has the whole principal cast, the ensemble, and crew in amazing shape and all the trains, as they say, running on time.

    And yes, there are those songs. Sting recorded them himself for a hit album last year, there was a PBS special and a DVD. A few have changed since then, a couple of have been dropped, and those are good signs. It means nothing was written in stone. One beautiful ballad, “Practical Arrangement,” is now omitted as Tony winner and multiple Oscar nominee Logan continues to delineate and streamline the book.

    All the artistic participants are on hand 24/7, by the way, unlike what we’ve heard about other shows. Sting hangs unobtrusively around the theater taking notes, wringing hands, making changes. He is fully committed to the show, and the results of that are more than evident.

    He doesn’t have to do much else. Unlike with this past season’s original musicals, everyone leaves “The Last Ship” humming if not outright singing what they just heard. The standouts are the title song and the stomping, fun “What Have You Got.” But there’s also the beautiful “What Say You, Meg,” sung poignantly by the show’s talented second lead, Aaron Lazar, and now sounding like the hit you missed the first time you played an album.

    I’m also convinced that “The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance” will become a Broadway classic. Sting also deftly weaves in three of his lesser known past compositions: “When We Dance,” “Island of Souls,” and “Ghost Story” that now sound as if they were waiting for a musical.

    "Sting: The Last Ship" full performance in NYC | Video | Great Performances | Great Performances | PBS

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    Re: Sting's New Broadway Play

    I can't help wondering if the title is in some way indicative of it being his final performance, so to speak. If so, it would be a great loss to the musical world.

    Whenever our choir performs his "Fields Of Gold", we have to explain to the audience who "Gordon Sumner" actually is, as we have to include the composer's name, as printed on the sheet music, on the programme. Still, it makes for a good intro blurb.

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    Re: Sting's New Broadway Play

    Sting says that at 62, he's not interested in writing pop songs for fourteen year olds anymore. He found the musical very challenging since he's used to being the dictator in his own band and they brought in huge talents to collaborate with him. The play is about his childhood, growing up in the shipyards and trying to escape that fate. Apparently, his town made a great final effort to build the last ship, even though they knew it would be the death of the town and no one would ever know about their masterpiece. He said he had a great time and it seems to be a success, so maybe he'll do another.

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    Re: Sting's New Broadway Play

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint_ View Post
    Sting says that at 62, he's not interested in writing pop songs for fourteen year olds anymore. He found the musical very challenging since he's used to being the dictator in his own band and they brought in huge talents to collaborate with him. The play is about his childhood, growing up in the shipyards and trying to escape that fate. Apparently, his town made a great final effort to build the last ship, even though they knew it would be the death of the town and no one would ever know about their masterpiece. He said he had a great time and it seems to be a success, so maybe he'll do another.
    He truly is a Maestro - to back out in his prime - unlike other bands that continue, such as the Beach "Boys", and the Rolling Stones - each of them well into their 70s. Aged Peter Pans.

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