Loosely based on Sting's memories of growing up in England, the play is set in a shipbuilding town in the 1980s. The Last Ship tells the story of a man who returns home after traveling the world for 14 years, only to find the local industry in sharp decline and the woman he loves engaged to another man.
Sting's score for The Last Ship marks the musician's first new body of solo material in a decade and was released as an album last fall. According to Jeffery Seller, the play's Tony Award-winning producer, some tracks from the album will not appear in the show, while new Sting-penned numbers will be featured on stage. "It's Sting's singular expression of this play, but it's not the play," Seller said of the album.
"I wanted the music to reflect the traditional music of the northeast of England where I grew up as well as tipping my hat to the great music of the theatrical tradition – Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Brecht and Weill," Sting told Rolling Stone last summer.
"People ask if it's autobiographical," Seller said. "The only real answer is I think it's emotionally autobiographical but it's not autobiographical. 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."
The Last Ship's script was co-written by playwrights John Logan (Red) and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal); it will be directed by Joe Mantello (Wicked) and choreographed by Steven Hoggett (Once). The show stars American Idiot's Michael Esper and Irish singer Rachel Tucker, who has also appeared in Wicked in London.
Sting highlighted tracks from The Last Ship during a 10-concert run at the Public Theater in New York City last fall to benefit the venue's arts organization; one of those concerts will be broadcast on PBS on February 21st at 9 p.m. ET. The Last Ship is also already scheduled to make its official stage debut in Chicago this summer for a run at the Bank of America Theatre starting June 10th and wrapping up on July 13th.
While The Last Ship is preparing to set sail, Sting has already embarked on another unique project: A co-headlining tour with Paul Simon that will feature solo sets alongside the duets with the two musicians. "I've always liked good music – I might have looked like a punk in the Seventies, but I wasn't one," Sting recently told Rolling Stone. "Paul's intention is always to get better. That's one of my obsessions, too."