Sting's Hit Musical The Last Ship Comes to San Francisco
The musical legend stole the show at SHN’s 2019–2020 new season announcement: here’s how.
Photo by Dan Jewett
In a room packed with SHN (Shorenstein Hays Nederlander theater) season pass holders and members of the press, the fabulous Sting (sorry my fan girl is showing) shared with us his journey to Broadway, where he first premiered his musical The Last Ship. The show earned two Tony Award–nominations on Broadway, traveled to the U.K. and Ireland, and just completed a sold-out run in Toronto. Sting decided to join the cast in Toronto, and will also be starring in the show here, which will run from February 20 to March 22 of next year.
Before he came on stage, many in the crowd didn’t know he was going to be performing (a perk of the SHN membership). I could see him standing in the crowd, listening to SHN CEO Greg Holland describe the line up for next season, including Tina Fey’s Mean Girls, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, My Fair Lady, The Book of Mormon, The Band’s Visit and SpongeBob the Musical (which got a hearty cheer from the audience).
We all had our phones poised to take in the show, and I’m sharing a few fun moments to whet your appetite. I apologize for the shakiness of the visuals, but his voice alone is worth a listen.
Here he tells us about this inspiration for The Last Ship: based on his childhood. He speaks about growing up in Newcastle in the U.K., and how the largest vessels on the planet were built on the end of his street; they were so large they eclipsed the sun at times. His destiny was to join the thousands of men who walked past him every day on the way to the shipyard, however, he dreamed of being a musician. We know how that turned out.
When Sting pitched the idea of writing about his town to a producer, the reaction was immediately positive: “This is classic, this is Fiddler on the Roof with ships, it’s community under crisis, the best type of drama!" A year or so later, in 2016, he opened on Broadway, but didn’t take the stage until this year in Toronto.
Here he describes his childhood, and how his plot twist changed musical history and the pronunciation of the name Roxanne.
Sting introduces the song "If You Ever See Me Talking to a Sailor," which tells about the return of the character Gideon to the town. He then introduces the lead singer: "This is the gorgeous Frances McNamee, check out her smile."
In his introduction to the song "The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance," Sting talks about how the women saved the town, and how meaningful this is in today's times.
Sting discusses the song where his character, Jackie, is torn between loyalty to his men and the shipbuilding company. And when he sings, wow, he shows us why he is Sting and we are not.
Our Exclusive Interview: Sitting Down With The Man Himself
Before the interview, I posted some questions on Facebook, and loved the great responses I got. And I learned why I should not crowdsource for upcoming interviews. Sting, if you ever read this, I hope you can take some time to answer the very thoughtful queries on my Facebook page. Out of the 50 good questions culled on Instagram and Facebook, I apologize for asking you these duds. You are a great sport, and I do hope you’ll keep your ‘prompted’ word and come out to Marin for a glass of wine.
Before heading over, I heard that my friend Cort Larned had taught him how to snowboard. Sting remembers it fondly and thinks he might have been Cort’s worst student — I doubt it.
See Sting’s appreciation. Sting says Marin is beautiful and is coming to visit!
Adam Sumner is NOT Sting’s Nephew.
To explain, my überly talented musician friend Adryn posted say “Hi” to her husband’s uncle. I didn’t check Facebook again before the interview to realize she was kidding.
It seems Sting has only written one song about barley. Thanks Matt Holohan (see above).
Sting is not religious, but does practice yoga … and he didn’t have time to get into Tantric sex.
If Sting had a theme song (thanks Christina Scott), it would be "Is That All There Is?" by Peggy Lee.
If you are intrigued and want to hear Sting live next February, tickets are available Tuesday, May 7th.