Rock star Sting's musical 'The Last Ship' docks on Broadway

Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:05am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "The Last Ship," a musical by Grammy-winning rock star Sting based on his childhood in a shipbuilding town in northeastern England, landed on Broadway with a star-studded opening.

Actors Robert De Niro, Liam Neeson, Bill Pullman and Alan Cumming, along with singers Billy Joel and Debbie Harry of Blondie were on hand on Sunday night for Sting's Broadway debut as a composer at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Despite winning 16 Grammys, the former frontman of the rock group The Police admitted being nervous before the curtain went up for the show he had been working on for five years.

"I was brought up in a pretty extraordinary place in the shadow of a shipyard and it always had a kind of theatrical feel to it. And I thought - I wanted to honor the community I came from. It was about time," Sting, 63, said.

The musical charts the course of Gideon Fletcher, a shipbuilder's son who leaves his girlfriend, Meg Dawson, and his hometown of Wallsend in search of a better life. He returns 15 years later after his father's death to a town hit by recession, where the shipyard has closed and his lover has moved on.

"Rich score propels 'Ship,'" the New York Daily News said in a headline, while the New York Times called it an "ambitious, earnest musical," adding the seductive score is among the best composed by a rock or pop figure for Broadway.

"The Last Ship" is packed with about 20 songs ranging from sweet, melodic ballads to toe-tapping dance numbers set in the grim shipyard, a local pub and the Catholic Church.

"The varied score draws on the antique sounds of sea chanteys, and often has a heavily Celtic sound — with a little Kurt Weill thrown in for good measure," said the New York Times.   Continued...

Singer Sting arrives for the opening night of his Broadway Show "The Last Ship" in New York, October 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri