Today marks the New York opening of rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Sting’s, debut musical, The Last Ship. Premiering at Manhattan’s Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway, the play features all original music and lyrics by the artist. Its premise was inspired by the singer’s childhood, as well as Wallsend, England’s shipbuilding industry.
Despite the great deal of work he’s invested into the project, Sting doesn’t actually make an appearance in the new musical. “It’s rooted certainly in my experience and something I know about,” he says. “But we’re not telling a biographical story. There are elements of my life in this thing, but that’s not what we’re doing, I promise you.”
Directed by Joe Mantello — who was also behind fellow Broadway hit, Wicked — and choreographed by Steven Hoggett, The Last Ship follows the story of one young man named Gideon, who leaves home. He travels the world, and returns years later, only to discover that the place he once knew has changed dramatically. His town, which once thrived on shipbuilding, has lost touch with its longstanding history. The play explores how he’s left to deal with these dramatic changes, and the young Gideon, pre-world travel, is played by Collin Kelly-Sordelet. The older version of the protagonist is depicted by actor Michael Esper. On the play’s subject matter, Sting had this to say: “The imagery of the sea and ships is very fertile. I mean, we came from the sea. Everything came from the sea. I just tapped into that. I tapped into my own ancestry and my community, and behold we have a musical.”
The former Police frontman, who can apparently be found pacing back and forth at every rehearsal, is understandably quite passionate about his labor of love. “I’m at the back there every night, mouthing every syllable, which is an extra burden the poor things have,” he said. He continues, “They know I’m listening.”
The nautically-themed musical happens to have an accompanying book of the same name written by Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist Brian Yorkey, as well as Tony-winner John Logan. The idea for The Last Ship apparently began with a CD and a concert special broadcasted on PBS. Before making it’s way to New York City, the play made its debut in Chicago earlier this summer.