Today, in the most appropriate venue of the Leith Dockers’ Club, legendary Geordie born singer, Sting, gave an invited audience a taster of his acclaimed musical The Last Ship that will premiere in his home town of Newcastle with a 4 -week run in March 2018 before its UK tour.
Following introductions from the CE of Kings and Festival Theatre Trust, Duncan Hendry, and the show’s producer, Karl Sydow, the audience was treated to an intimate, stripped back sample of the upcoming show that looks to be an exciting and politically timeous venture.
We learned that while it is not autobiographical, the story has been greatly influenced by the singer’s Tyneside background and upbringing and the closure of the town's Swan Hunter shipyard. Sting also cites the influence of Jimmy Reid and the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in as well as his region’s musical links to Northumbria, Scotland and Ireland.
Born Gordon Matthew Sumner in Wallsend, he witnessed the hardships of the ship-building industry and wanted to become a musician having developed a love for the bass guitar. In 1977 he formed the rock band, The Police, with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers and has gone on to have an enormously successful solo career. Despite his great success, he’s not forgotten his roots and The Last Ship is a tribute to industry and community and a personal homage to the dignity of work.
The production, whose own voyage has grown organically from being song cycle that went on to be an oratorio before becoming ‘a play with music’ on Broadway, tells the story of Gideon Fletcher, a man who returns home after seventeen years at sea, to find tensions between past and future flaring up in both his family and his town. The local shipyard, around which Wallsend has always revolved, is closing and no-one knows what will come next, only that a half-built ship towers over the terraces.
The voices of home are the voices of the heart, and as he sang songs from the musical, that ranged from the moving Dead Man’s Boots; the touching love song What Say You Meg and a fast waltz about a dancing pugilist, Sting’s native Geordie accent came through beautifully. In this emotional atmosphere, it was touching to see Sting being given a gift by his Leith hosts – the book
Voices of Leith Dockers.
This UK tour of The Last Ship will star fellow Geordie, the singer and actor Jimmy Nail, and is directed by Edinburgh-born Lorne Campbell, artistic director of Northern Stage, who produce the show in association with Karl Sydow and Kathryn Schenker, with set design by the Tony Award-winning 59 Productions. Further casting to be announced.
The Last Ship will be at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh from Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 June 2018. Tickets on sale now.
2018 Tour Dates:
Monday 12 March – Saturday 7 April
northernstage.co.uk | 0191 230 5151
Monday 9 – Saturday 14 April
everymanplayhouse.com | 0151 709 4776
Monday 16 – Saturday 21 April
THE NEW ALEXANDRA, BIRMINGHAM
atgtickets.com/Birmingham | 0844 871 7647
Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 April
ROYAL & DERNGATE, NORTHAMPTON
royalandderngate.co.uk | 01604 624 811
Monday 30 April – Saturday 5 May
LEEDS GRAND THEATRE
leedsgrandtheatre.com | 0844 848 2700
Monday 7 – Saturday 12 May
nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk | 0115 941 9419
Monday 14 – Saturday 19 May
WALES MILLENIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF
wmc.org.uk | 029 2063 6464
Monday 28 May – Saturday 2 June
BORD GAIS ENERGY THEATRE, DUBLIN
bordgaisenergytheatre.ie | +353 1 677 7999
Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 June
FESTIVAL THEATRE, EDINBURGH
edtheatres.com | 0131 529 6000
Monday 18 – Saturday 23 June
THEATRE ROYAL GLASGOW
atgtickets.com/Glasgow | 0844 871 7647
Monday 25 – Saturday 30 June
YORK THEATRE ROYAL
yorktheatreroyal.co.uk | 01904 623 568
Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 July
THE LOWRY, SALFORD
thelowry.com | 0843 208 6000