Saturday, May 25, 2024

Sting Makes A Sensational ‘Debut’ on Broadway in His “Last Ship” Musical


Tuesday night marked Sting’s debut in his own Broadway musical, “The Last Ship.” He was on Broadway over twenty years ago in a failed production of “The Threepenny Opera.” So coming into “The Last Ship” took guts and it also showed time heals all wounds. In his first performance, the composer of what is invariably the best new score on Broadway in some time, acquitted himself beautifully.

He’s taking over not the lead, but the part Jimmy Nail plays as the foreman of the Wallsend shipyard that’s being shut down. When Sting first appeared on a set of stairs and looked down at the audience, I really thought his thought balloon was “Holy cow, what did I agree to?” But a few minutes in and he settled down, loosening up and belting his own songs with his strong, trademark voice. In short order Sting did the impossible: he blended in and stood out.

“The Last Ship” is a bewilderment. The music and staging are phenomenal, the cast is top notch. Everyone who sees it loves it. But a marketing misstep early on may have turned off female ticket buyers. The show seemed like it was just about ships, and men in peacoats. FALSE. It’s a romantic triangle with gorgeous melodies and many women in the cast who give award winning performances. It’s also about fathers and sons and legacies. And “The Last Ship” is also a fairy tale in many regards. It’s not meant to be realistic.

Next Tuesday the cast CD comes out. One listen will explain all to potential ticket buyers. It’s just hit after hit. Besides Sting’s well known songs like “All This Time” and “When We Dance,” all the new songs classics in the making. You can’t stop humming them or singing them. They’re that good.

Sting will be in the show until January 9th. Then Jimmy Nail comes back. Either way you can’t lose. “The Last Ship” has to sail through the spring, when it will pick up momentum in Tony Awards season. And the nice thing, parents can go with teens 12 and up.

As for Sting, after a weekend at the Kennedy Center, he sailed through his first show and got the right laughs, too. No mistakes, no one fell off a ladder or missed a cue. Good stuff. We’ll keep checking in.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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