Sting and the cast of ''The Last Ship'' are booked onto the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon for October 16th...

October 16, 2014

A few people I know had the same idea last and hied themselves over to the Neil Simon Theater on West 52nd St. to see a preview of Sting and Joe Mantello's ''The Last Ship.'' The show, which got raves in Chicago over the summer, started performances last week with a circle around October 26th for its big opening. So funny to spot the other skulkers who came to see whether rumors of the show's seaworthiness were true.

They are indeed. ''The Last Ship'' is even in much better shape than when I saw it in Chicago. Writer John Logan (whom I spotted darting about with a clipboard) has significantly changed the show’s opening, beefed up the back story and entry of the main character, Gideon, sung by the stunning Michael Esper.

Here and there Sting, director Mantello, Logan, et al have made the right kind of tweaks. Sadly they dropped one song, ''And Yet.'' But they added and re-orchestrated a Sting hit from the 90s called ''All this Time.'' It establishes Esper's character and gives the Sting fans in house a familiar tune before he takes them on a musical journey of new, deliciously composed eminently singable new songs. Some of them are included in the album Sting released last year, including the title number, as well as ferociously catchy ''What Have We Got'' and the gorgeous ''The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance.'' The show's perhaps signature ballad, ''What Say You, Meg?'', added in Chicago, is better than ever.

''The Last Ship''” is inspired by Sting's childhood in Newcastle, northern England, as the shipbuilding business was on the wane. We’ve heard Elvis Costello sing about this subject in Robert Wyatt's ''Shipbuilding,'' and Sting has covered some of this in his album ''The Soul Cages.''

But this show is a piece of art unto itself, a real, live proper Broadway musical with Tony Awards in its sights. All the performers have terrific voices. The movements are directed by Steven Hoggett of ''Once'' fame. ''The Last Ship'' is vibrant and serious, and still very funny. Get back from intermission on time or risk missing ''Mrs. Dees' Rant'' led by Shawna Hamic. Hilarious.

All the main cast of star crossed young people - Esper, Rachel Tucker, Aaron Lazar plus young Collin Kelley Sordelet - are outstanding. But I have my personal favorites– Jimmy Nail, so authentic as Jackie, the leader of the shipyard; Fred Applegate. the comic center of the show (and a future Tony nominee) and Sally Ann Triplett.

''The Last Ship'' will keep changing slightly as it tightens up for October 26th. But the nearly sold out audience loved it - I mean loved it. I'm there are some discount tickets on sale before opening night. After that, who knows, because ''The Last Ship'' looks like it's going to be ''on sail'' for a long time to come.

(c) Showbiz411 by Roger Friedman



Oct 15, 2014

Jimmy Nail was having an out-of-body moment. His lanky frame was folded in an armchair in the low-ceilinged basement lounge of the Neil Simon Theater for an interview, but his tired eyes suddenly searched the room's four corners, as if he were trying to see beyond its walls: back to Newcastle-on-Tyne, back to the shipyards where he and the men of his family once toiled. "I worked on big turbines that propelled the supertankers," said Mr. Nail, the son of a shipyard foreman who plays one in the new musical "The Last Ship," which has songs by another Newcastle native with a sharp-edged moniker, Sting. "You had a turbine shed that might have been four times the length of this room, and in the middle of it was a turbine, and men were crawling all over it like ants, welding it and polishing it."

Oct 15, 2014

Bravo Media's Emmy Award-winning ''Inside the Actors Studio,'' hosted by James Lipton, welcomes world-renowned musician, actor, author and composer Sting to the stage on Thursday, October 23rd at 8pm ET/PT. Lipton sits down with the singer-songwriter to discuss everything from his time with The Police to his forthcoming Broadway musical ''The Last Ship,'' which opens on October 26 at the Neil Simon Theatre. ''In the twenty-one years of Inside the Actors Studio, there has never been an episode like Sting's,'' says Lipton. ''Performing numerous songs and revealing himself with unprecedented candor, irresistible charm and undisguised emotion, he has brought us a Sting that his legion of followers has never seen before. On the eve of the opening of ''The Last Ship,'' the magic begins on our stage.''