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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisFor the first time in ten years, Sting released an album of entirely original material, but more than merely a conventional collection of pop and rock songs, it serves as the inspiration behind a musical of the same name. The stage version of "The Last Ship" (A&M) is slated to leave the docks of Chicago in the summer of 2014 (June 10-July 13 to be exact), serving as an immensely anticipated pre-Broadway engagement.
In fact, the singer/songwriter personally took to the Windy City to introduce stories and songs from the show with a little help from producer Jeffrey Seller ("Rent," "Avenue Q") and lead actor Jimmy Nail for just a few hundred invited guests. The hour long event first and foremost laid the groundwork for a story set in the English seafaring town of Wallsend and a man named Gideon, who goes against the grain of working in a shipyard to become a world traveler, but upon his return home 14 years later, is met with a myriad of upheaval.
Five song performances also helped propel the complexities of that character and his surrounding culture, ranging from a mix of folksy drinking songs to introspective ballads, all of which blended the singer's signature sophistication with Nail's theatrical spoken word accompaniment. Some of the tunes were so fresh that Sting whipped out his iPad to be as precise with the lyrics as possible, which only added to the insider's feel of this work in progress.
While it remains to be seen how well "The Last Ship" will be received (especially considering peers like Bono and The Edge, Elton John, Phil Collins, Paul Simon and Cyndi Lauper have all had varying degrees of success with musicals), it's certain that Chicago will be seeing lots of Sting in 2014. And while he won't be a part of the actual cast, there's always the chance of a Wednesday matinee cameo as the entertainer so humorously suggested shortly before thanking Broadway In Chicago for its hospitality and earning a standing ovation from the select group of lucky admirers.
"The Last Ship" comes to the Bank of America Theatre June 10-July 13, 2014. For additional details visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.
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