By: Gary Graff
Brother, can you spare a few million dollars? If so, then Sting wants to talk to you.
The British rocker and Police frontman is on the hunt to raise $15 million to produce “The Last Ship,” a musical inspired by his 1991 album “The Soul Cages” that will deal with the shipbuilding culture in his birthplace near Newcastle, England.
The musical is being directed by Joe Mantello and is already cast, while those who heard a reading of the piece last week are comparing it -- mostly with favor -- to the stage adaptation of “Billy Elliott”.
Sting tells us he prefers to call "The Last Ship," "a play with songs" rather than a musical, however:
“I loathe to call it a musical because I don't like that term. It's a play set in my home town, in Newcastle. It's about a shipyard. I was born in the shadow of a shipyard, born and raised next to a shipyard. I often wondered why I was exposed to this rather surreal environment when I was growing up, and I realize now it has a massive psychological and symbolic importance to me. That's the landscape of my dreams was my little home town and the house that I was brought up in and the ghosts that were there. And it's really a story of redemption and occupying a ship yard against the wishes of the owners, which is kind of topical at the moment. We occupy just about everything.”
Sting also acknowledges that it's a markedly different process than his usual musical pursuits:
“It's a very difficult thing to do a musical. I'm saying that word now. It's a very, very concise form, and it's all about stripping everything down to its bare essentials -- the narrative, the song, what people say. And so I'm finding it very absorbing and difficult, and it takes up most of my waking life and a lot of my dream life at the moment, which is interesting...I go from being quietly confident to being noisily desponded, but that's the creative process.”
Sting hopes to have “The Last Ship” on stage by the spring of 2015.
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