Sting is heading to the Broadway stage as he joins the cast of his own play, The Last Ship for which he wrote the music and lyrics. In a move designed to save the struggling play which opened in October, he will be joining the cast in a co-starring role as of December 9th. Although this does not give Sting much time to rehearse for the role, he was present during much of the development of the play over the course of the past five years. For some the question is not whether his presence on the stage will help the play in the immediate future but rather what happens after his five-week run is over.
The production which cost $15 million has been losing approximately $75,000 every week since it premiered. The show also opened to mixed reviews from critics which did not help bring in theater goers. Now with Sting joining the show, hopes are high that fans of the singer will come out to support the show and give ticket sales a boost.
The Last Ship is a story about British shipbuilders as they struggle with not only rebuilding relationships but also regaining their sense of pride. It is not based on any movies or major hit songs, which is what some say may be causing theater goers not to give the play a chance. When asked about the play, Sting said that it was not aimed at his own fans and he did not believe bringing an original piece to Broadway would be easy but he does hope that by joining the production it might garner additional interest in the production.
Since previews began on September 29, the lead producer Jeffrey Seller says that the production has yet to hit the $625,000 a week that is a base level of income that indicates sustainability at the the box office. At present the show has been hitting between $500,000 to $600,000 per week. However Seller also pointed out that there have been other productions that also had a slow start and ended up as Tony award winners. One example mentioned by Seller was A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder which had a slow start but ended up winning a Tony in June.
This is not Sting’s first time on Broadway. The last time the singer appeared on stage was in 1989 when he appeared in a revival of The Threepenny Opera. Although it has been over 20 years since he took the Broadway stage, the performer believes he will be able to handle the demands of eight shows per week. As he has said, on concert tours he might have a performance five nights a week and have to sing for two straight hours with no break.
Sting has been a strong supporter of the production and will showcase this when he joins the cast of the Broadway play for a performance on the NBC telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Not only will this first performance introduce audiences to the play but Seller hopes that having Sting as part of the cast for a limited engagement will create a sense of momentum that allows the show to at least run through the Tony season.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by Tony Felgueiras – Flickr License