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The Last Ship (musical)

The Last Ship
The Last Ship Musical.jpg
Official poster of 2014 production
MusicSting
LyricsSting
BookJohn Logan
Brian Yorkey
Lorne Campbell (UK tour)
Productions2014 Chicago
2014 Broadway
2016 Salt Lake City
2019 Toronto

The Last Ship is an original musical with music and lyrics by Sting and a book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey. Inspired by Sting's own childhood experiences and the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, the musical premiered in the summer of 2014, at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago, before moving to the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. The musical received two Tony Award nominations in 2015, for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations.[1]

Background

In September 2011, it was confirmed that British musician Sting was working on a musical,[2] following rumours the previous year.[3] A first reading took place in Manhattan in October that year,[4] with a further reading in Newcastle in February 2012[5] and ultimately a full staged reading[6] for the musical was held in 2013.[7] In September 2013, the show was officially confirmed and it was announced that the show would premiere in Chicago in 2014.[8] The Last Ship, which would cost around $15 million to stage,[9] was initially inspired by Sting's 1991 album The Soul Cages[10] and Sting's own childhood experiences.[11] It tells the story about community and the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the town's Swan Hunter shipyard.[12][13] The show has a book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey[14] and is directed by Joe Mantello,[15] with choreography by Steven Hoggett,[16] set and costume design by David Zinn,[17] lighting design by Christopher Akerlind[18] and sound design by Brian Ronan.[19]

The show features a score by Sting[20] that includes mostly original material, as well as four previously-written songs: "Island of Souls" and "All This Time" from The Soul Cages, "When We Dance" from the 1994 album Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984–1994, and "Ghost Story" from the 1999 album Brand New Day. Speaking in 2011, Brian Yorkey said: "He's writing great theater music", "It's very, very distinctly Sting but it also is theatre music. It's not just pop music transposed into the theatre."[21]

The Last Ship is Sting's first musical. He had previously co-written the score for the 2000 animated Disney musical film The Emperor's New Groove, although only two of his songs ended up in the film after heavy studio retooling.[22]

Sting's eleventh studio album, titled The Last Ship, featuring music from, or originally intended for the musical,[23] was released on 24 September 2013.[24] The album marked his first release of original material since his 2003 album Sacred Love[23] and his first foray into musical theatre.[25] Sting had suffered from writer's block and credited the show with giving him a reason to write songs again.[26] Sting held a series of concerts at The Public Theater in October 2013,[27] featuring music from the show and told stories of the making of the musical.[28] The concert was later broadcast on PBS[29] as part of its Great Performances series.[30]

After the "unsurprising"[31] closure of the Broadway run of the show, many observers commented that Newcastle or another venue in the UK would have been "a more natural home"[32] for the show, which was "a tough sell"[33] for the US. "Tyneside accents and the decline of Britain’s industrial heartland aren’t naturally in the wheelhouse of Manhattan’s jewellery-rattling theatregoers."[31] Sting has been dismissive of the argument.[32]

The musical was produced later in the UK, with a new book. One of the major changes in the new production was the removal of the significant figure of a priest, as well as many religious references.

Roles and principal casts

Character Chicago
(2014)[34]
Original Broadway Cast
(2014)[35]
UK/Ireland Tour
(2018)[36]
Toronto
(2019)[37]
Gideon Fletcher Michael Esper Richard Fleeshman Oliver Savile
Jackie White Jimmy Naila Joe McGann Sting
Peggy White Sally Ann Triplett Charlie Hardwick Jackie Morrison
Meg Dawson Rachel Tucker Frances McNamee
Joe Fletcherb Jamie Jackson Sean Kearns
Tom Dawson & Young Gideon Collin Kelly-Sordelet Matt Corner Barney Wilkinson
Young Meg Dawn Cantwell Parisa Shahmir Jade Sophia Vertannes
Billy Thompson Craig Bennett Joe Caffrey
Davey Harrison Matthew Stocke Kevin Wathen
Freddy Newlandsb Eric Anderson Sean Kearns
Adrian Sanderson Rich Hebert Charlie Richmond Marc Akinfolarin
Beatrice Dees Shawna M. Hamic Annie Grace Orla Gormley
Ellen Dawson N/A Katie Moore Sophie Reid
Baroness Tynedale N/A Penelope Woodman Annie Grace
Father James O'Brien Fred Applegate N/A
Arthur Millburn Aaron Lazar N/A
Jessie Flynn Leah Hocking N/A
Sailor Drew McVety N/A
  • ^a Sting replaced Nail as Jackie White from Dec. 9, 2014 until the show's Broadway closing on Jan. 25, 2015.
  • ^b Since the 2018 UK tour production, the roles of Joe Fletcher and Freddy Newlands have been played by the same actor.

Music

Musical numbers

The following is the list of musical numbers in the Broadway production. The musical uses a twelve-member orchestra consisting of keyboard, piano, guitar, bass, drums, Northumbrian smallpipe, flute, whistle, melodeon, fiddle, cello and percussion.[38]


Toronto (2019)

Original Broadway cast album

The Last Ship (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Soundtrack album cast recording by
Various
Released16 December 2014 (2014-12-16)
StudioAvatar Studios
ProducerRob Mathes

The original Broadway cast recording was released on December 16, 2014.[39]

No.TitleLength
1."Island of Souls"6.35
2."All This Time"3.17
3."August Winds"2.26
4."Shipyard"5.42
5."If You Ever See Me Talking to a Sailor"4.13
6."Dead Man's Boots"2.55
7."The Last Ship (Part One)"2.10
8."Sail Away"2.11
9."The Last Ship (Part Two)"2.37
10."What Say You Meg?"3.53
11."We’ve Got Now’t Else"3.26
12."When We Dance"4.25
13."Mrs. Dees' Rant"2.51
14."The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance"4.06
15."So To Speak"3.17
16."Show Some Respect"4.03
17."It's Not the Same Moon"4.28
18."Underground River"2.37
19."Ghost Story"4.43
20."The Last Ship (Finale)"2.05
21."What Say You Meg? (Bonus track)"4.02

Productions

Chicago and Broadway

On 19 September 2013, it was announced that the show would begin its world premiere with a pre-Broadway Chicago tryout.[40] Tickets for the tryout went on sale on 14 February 2014.[41] Previews for the Chicago run of the show began on 10 June 2014 at the Bank of America Theatre, the show opened on 25 June 2014, and played for 33 days total until 13 July 2014.[42][43]

Following completion of the tryout in Chicago, The Last Ship transferred to the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway in New York.[44] Previews started playing at the Neil Simon Theater on 29 September 2014,[45] and the official opening night was 26 October 2014.[46][47] Sting joined the cast on stage during the curtain call on opening night. Celebrities including Billy Joel, Robert De Niro and Liam Neeson were in attendance.[48] In a bid to help falling ticket sales, creator and musician Sting joined the cast for a limited run from 9 December 2014 to 24 January 2015,[49] replacing Jimmy Nail.[50]

Despite sales increasing with Sting in the cast and producers stating he had had a "galvanising effect", the decision was taken to close at the end of his run in the show on 24 January 2015.[51]

Salt Lake City

The Last Ship was produced in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre on the University of Utah campus from September 16, 2016 through October 1, 2016.

On September 22, Sting joined the cast at the curtain of that evening's performance of his inaugural musical, making its regional premiere in Salt Lake City in the first production after its Broadway run. After a standing ovation, Sting thanked the "amazing cast" and said it was "surreal" to see the story of his English shipbuilding home transported to the middle of Utah.

"I loved the reaction," he said. "I loved sitting among you all and hearing you laugh and hearing you cry."[52]

Turku, Finland

There was a new (non-replica) production of The Last Ship (fin. Viimeinen Laiva) in Turku, Finland. It had its opening night on 15 September 2017 at Turku City Theatre. The full show is performed in the Finnish language.[53] Turku is a very famous shipbuilding city in Finland. One of the world's biggest cruise ships, the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, was built at the Turku shipyard.

United Kingdom and Ireland

In October 2017, it was announced The Last Ship would be embark on a UK and Ireland tour,[54] beginning at Northern Stage in Newcastle upon Tyne in March 2018.[55] The production features a new book by director Lorne Campbell.[56] Notable casting included Joe McGann as Jackie White, Richard Fleeshman as Gideon Fletcher, Charlie Hardwick as Peggy White and Francess McNamee as Meg Dawson.[57] Jimmy Nail had been due to reprise the role he created on Broadway of Jackie White, however negotiations stalled and his offer to perform on the tour was withdrawn.[58]

Toronto

The show ran in Toronto, Ontario, at the Princess of Wales Theatre between February 9 and March 24, 2019. The production featured a new cast, including Sting as Jackie White.[59]

Awards

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2015 Drama Desk Awards[60] Outstanding Choreography Steven Hoggett Nominated
Outstanding Music Sting Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Rob Mathes Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical Brian Ronan Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards[61] Outstanding New Broadway Musical Nominated
Outstanding Book of a Musical John Logan
Brian Yorkey
Nominated
Outstanding New Score Sting Nominated
Tony Awards[62] Best Original Score Nominated
Best Orchestrations Rob Mathes Nominated

References

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (1 September 2011). "Sting and Brian Yorkey Embark on a New Musical, 'The Last Ship'". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Sting Pens Bio-musical for Broadway???". whatsonstage.com. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  4. ^ "Sting gets on board The Last Ship musical". The Guardian. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Joe Mantello Helms U.K. Reading of Sting-Brian Yorkey Musical The Last Ship". Playbill. 6 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Sting's THE LAST SHIP Musical Coming to Broadway in 2014; Louise Pitre to Lead?". BroadwayWorld. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Louise Pitre Part of The Last Ship Reading; Is Sting-Scored Musical Eyeing Broadway in 2014?". Playbill. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Sting Musical The Last Ship Will Premiere in Chicago Prior to Fall 2014 Broadway Arrival". Playbill. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Sunken dreams for Sting as his $15m Broadway musical The Last Ship is axed after three month run". dailymail.co.uk. London: Daily Mail. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Writing The Last Ship". Huffington Post. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  11. ^ Morgan, Scott C (11 October 2013). "Sting sails into Chicago to promote 'Last Ship'". Daily Herald. Chicago. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Sting musical The Last Ship finds Broadway home". bbc.co.uk/news. BBC News. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
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  33. ^ Nick Clark (24 November 2014), Sting to join cast of his own Broadway show The Last Ship
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  53. ^ "Viimeinen laiva" (in Finnish).
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  62. ^ "Tony Award Nominees - The Last Ship". The Tony Awards. Retrieved 10 June 2015.


External links