Sting tries out new musical The Last Ship in Newcastle
According to the Journal newspaper, the singer attended two script-in-hand performances in his hometown on Friday and Saturday in order to gauge audience reaction.
Performers included local stars Jimmy Nail and sister Val McLane, while American producer Jeffrey Seller (Rent, Avenue Q), director Joe Mantallo and writer Brian Yorkey were also in attendance (the run-through was directed by Rob Mathes).
Sting told the paper, “It’s kind of nerve-wracking and a huge risk to come to Newcastle and present something very unfinished and raw, and I hope people will understand the process and feel they can invest in it emotionally.”
The musical centres on a group of shipyard workers who build their own ship after their yard is closed. Inspired by a local Priest, they decide to set sail on a world voyage.
“I was trying to honour that period of history here and these men,” Sting said. “Although the conditions they worked in were appalling, with an inhospitable, toxic environment of asbestos, red lead and welding fumes, they were ferociously proud of the ships they built.”
The story is drawn from his own childhood memories of growing up in the north east, before he found fame as the lead singer of pop group The Police.
Sting - whose real name is Gordon Sumner - told the Journal that the musical, which has also had a try-out in New York, had partly been influenced by his solo album The Soul Cages, released in 1990 shortly after the death of his father.
He said that the musical – his first, though he worked on shows at Newcastle’s University Theatre in the 1970s – would likely premiere in New York before transferring to the UK.