Ok, so Sting having a musical is a little weird. But if you’re as intrigued as I am, you can catch his Broadway debut of “The Last Ship” on October 26th, with previews beginning September 30th at the Neil Simon Theatre. Inspired by Sting’s personal memories of growing up in a northeast England shipbuilding community, the story follows a man who travels the world for 14 years before returning to find the shipyard’s future in shambles, and his love engaged to someone else.
“People ask if it’s autobiographical. The only real answer is I think it’s emotionally autobiographical but it’s not autobiographical,” explains producer Jeffrey Seller. “There’s no rock singer in ‘The Last Ship.’ But I certainly think that Sting is inspired by his youth and he’s working through a lot of emotions that all of us are working with as we get older.”
Before making its Broadway debut, the play will premiere at Chicago’s Bank Of America Theatre next summer, and include lead cast members Michael Esper (American Idiot, The Lyons) and Rachel Tucker (Wicked). Of course, the musical will also include several songs from Sting’s latest release, The Last Ship, which inspired the show, along with several new songs.
“I have continually been impressed by and rewarded by Sting’s depth of musical knowledge,” Seller said. “Sting certainly came to this never having written a musical but he has been an extraordinary student of musical theater, he’s an extraordinary collaborator and he has been an ideal artist in making this play.”
Will you be checking out Sting’s new musical?
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The good news is that this will not be a biographical narrative, despite the personal lyrical nature of the title song, but rather, according to Entertainment Weekly, a “story about two friends in the inner-city in the Midwest.” Todd Kreidler wrote the play and Broadway veteran Kenny Leon will direct.
The show is authorized by Shakur’s mother Afeni Shakur, who runs her son’s estate. She will serve as a producer. Holler If Ya Hear Me opens June 19th.
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Having shelved her career as a recording artist in favor of family life, Lily Allen recently revealed to Elle magazine that she has “nearly finished a musical.” The musical in question being the stage adaptation of 2001’s loveably painful chick flick Bridget Jones’s Diary, for which little has been said since last summer. On paper, Allen appears to have all the right reasons for this career shift”a new husband and baby on the way, and a blood line that lends itself to the stage (dad is British actor/musician Keith Allen, who’s credits include two Harold Pinter plays at the Almeida Theatre). However, the singer is hardly the first musician making the jump from the Billboard charts to Broadway.
Headlines have been monopolized in the past months by the drama surrounding U2‘s scored Spider-Man musical. After a series of setbacks including financial problems, injured cast members and scathing write ups, original director Julie Taymor threw her hands up in what we would imagine an exasperated manner and called it quits. Production was shut down for three weeks in March and given a serious face lift by new director Philip William McKinley and went on to rake in $1.7 million in its first week, qualifying it as a “hit.” While Spider-Man certainly lends itself to the powerful anthems and epic ballads found in U2’s discography, Bono was quoted as saying scoring the show was “harder than we ever thought”.
David Albarn and Jamie Hewlett of alt hip hop/rock group Gorillaz have also lent their talents to the stage, creating a musical adaptation of the Chinese story Journey to the West in 2007 which saw several runs over the next two years under the billing Monkey: Journey to the West. After further adaptation of some characters and music for inclusion in BBC’s coverage of the 2008 Bejing Olympics was met with criticism, Hewlett went on the defense, tagging negative reviews as hypocritical.
This all begs the question, why are these perfectly successful recording artists putting themselves through the theatrics (literally) of transitioning their talent to the stage? Some could argue ego, Broadway being just another feather in the hat of self-centered stars. Or maybe its the next step on the ladder of conquering the music industry as a whole. We’re hoping it boils down to the talent part. Chances are the Bonos and Lily Allens of the world are just incredibly talented human beings always seeking new creative outlets. But while a record is a neatly packaged representation of that talent, Broadway is an entirely different beast with more than one flair for the dramatic that requires its participants have the right amount of screws loose to partake. While Allen may be writing the music for Bridget Jones, we can’t really picture the new mom as the star, sliding down a fire pole ass first. Then again, she has been known for her own moments of quirk.