The Last Ship (musical)

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The Last Ship
The Last Ship Musical.jpg
Official poster of 2014 production
Music Sting
Lyrics Sting
Book John Logan
Brian Yorkey
Productions 2014 Chicago
2014 Broadway
2016 Salt Lake City

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]


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] 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 whilst discussing Sting writing the music for the show 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 tells stories of the making of the musical.[28] The concert was later broadcast on PBS[29] as part of their Great Performances series.[30]

After the "unsuprising"[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]

Musical numbers[edit]


The Broadway production of the musical used a twelve-member orchestra consisting of keyboard, piano, guitar, bass, drums, Northumbrian smallpipe, flute, whistle, melodeon, fiddle, cello and percussion.[34]


Chicago and Broadway[edit]

On 19 September 2013, it was announced that the show would begin its world premiere with a pre-Broadway Chicago tryout.[35] Tickets for the tryout went on sale on 14 February 2014.[36] 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.[37][38]

Following completion of the tryout in Chicago, The Last Ship transferred to the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway in New York.[39] Previews started playing at the Neil Simon Theater on 29 September 2014,[40] and the official opening night was 26 October 2014.[41][42] 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.[43] 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,[44] replacing Jimmy Nail.[45]

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.[46]

Salt Lake City[edit]

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 16th, 2016 through October 1st, 2016.

On September 22nd, 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."[47]

Potential future productions[edit]

Sting has claimed that the show will be performed in Oslo, and potentially in the UK.[32]

Principal roles and original cast[edit]

Character Original Chicago performer[48] Original Broadway performer
Gideon Fletcher Michael Esper
Meg Dawson Rachel Tucker
Jackie White Jimmy Nail
Father James O'Brien Fred Applegate
Arthur Millburn Aaron Lazar
Peggy White Sally Ann Triplett
Young Gideon/Tom Dawson Collin Kelly-Sordelet
Joe Fletcher Jamie Jackson

†Sting replaced Jimmy Nail as Jackie White on Broadway on December 9, 2014 and played the role until the production closed. Nail stayed with the show as a standby for the character while, in the meantime, being part of the ensemble.


Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2015 Drama Desk Awards[49] 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[50] Outstanding New Broadway Musical Nominated
Outstanding Book of a Musical John Logan
Brian Yorkey
Outstanding New Score Sting Nominated
Tony Awards[51] Best Original Score Nominated
Best Orchestrations Rob Mathes Nominated


  1. ^ [1][dead 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???". 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". 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 News. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "Sting 'compelled' to pen Tyne shipyard musical". BBC News. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Sting Will Perform The Last Ship as Benefit Concert for Steppenwolf". Playbill. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Sting's Musical 'The Last Ship' Is Broadway Bound". Rolling Stone. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "The Last Ship: Sting musical arrives 30 Sep 2014". 12 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  17. ^ "Sting's musical "The Last Ship" headed for Broadway this fall". CBS News. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Sting musical The Last Ship sets sail for Broadway". Toronto Star. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "Sting's musical finds Broadway home". The Belfast Telegraph. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  20. ^ "Sting's "The Last Ship" Coming to Broadway This Fall". 12 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Brian Yorkey-Sting Musical The Last Ship to Test Its Sails in October". Playbill. 1 September 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  22. ^ Graff, Gary (14 December 2000). "Sting's New Groove Struggle". ABC News. 
  23. ^ a b McKinley Jr, James C. (4 June 2013). "Sting to Release a New Album in September". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "STING'S THE LAST SHIP – New Album From the 16-Time Grammy® Award Winner". 5 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  25. ^ Ryzik, Melena (19 September 2013). "Sting's Musical to Open on Broadway After Chicago Tryout". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  26. ^ Pareles, Jon (12 September 2013). "Taking Himself Out of the Equation". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "Grammy Award Winner Sting Begins Ten-Concert Engagement at the Public Theater Sept. 25". Playbill. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  28. ^ "Sting performs highlights from his Broadway-bound musical on PBS show". 20 February 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  29. ^ ""Sting: The Last Ship" Airs on PBS' "Great Performances" Feb. 21". Playbill. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  30. ^ "Watch An Exclusive Performance from 'Sting: The Last Ship'". The Wall Street Journal. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Craig McLean (21 October 2016), Sting interview: 'Us musicians get paid extravagant amounts of money', The Telegraph 
  32. ^ a b c Kate Proctor (2 March 2015), Sting: The Last Ship could sail again - this time in Newcastle, Chronicle Live 
  33. ^ Nick Clark (24 November 2014), Sting to join cast of his own Broadway show The Last Ship 
  34. ^ "Inside the Playbill: The Last Ship Opening Night at Neil Simon Theatre". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  35. ^ Jurgensen, John (19 September 2013). "Sting's 'The Last Ship' Musical To Premiere in Chicago in 2014". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  36. ^ "Tickets to Pre-Broadway Premiere of Sting's THE LAST SHIP on Sale this Friday". Broadway World. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  37. ^ "The Last Ship - Bank of America Theater, Chicago, IL - Tickets, information, reviews". Retrieved 2017-03-25. 
  38. ^ "Sting sails to Chicago for pre-Broadway tryout of 'The Last Ship'". Chicago Tribune. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  39. ^ Cox, Gordon (12 February 2014). "Sting Musical 'The Last Ship' Books Broadway Theater, Cast". Variety. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  40. ^ "All Aboard! Sting's The Last Ship Begins Performances on Broadway". Broadway.Com. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  41. ^ "'Last Ship' casting announced". Chicago Tribune. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  42. ^ "All Aboard! Sting's The Last Ship Begins Performances on Broadway | Broadway Buzz". 2014-09-29. Retrieved 2017-03-25. 
  43. ^ "Sting's musical The Last Ship opens on Broadway – video report". The Guardian. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  44. ^ "Sting to join Broadway musical The Last Ship". BBC News. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  45. ^ Healy, Patrick (23 November 2014). "Sting to Join the Cast of His Broadway Musical". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  46. ^ "Sting's Broadway musical to close, as theatres report blockbuster year". BBC News. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  47. ^ "Sting rocks sold-out 'Last Ship' crowd in Salt Lake City". Retrieved 2017-03-25. 
  48. ^ "Casting announced for Sting's new musical, "The Last Ship"". Chicago Sun-Times. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  49. ^ "Drama Desk Nominations 2015 Full List",
  50. ^ "Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations Announced",
  51. ^ "Tony Award Nominees - The Last Ship". The Tony Awards. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 

External links[edit]