Rock star Sting's Broadway musical The Last Ship to close

Musician/playwright Sting attends the curtain call at a performance of The Last Ship at Neil Simon Theatre in New York City last month. -- PHOTO: AFP
Musician/playwright Sting attends the curtain call at a performance of The Last Ship at Neil Simon Theatre in New York City last month. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The Broadway musical The Last Ship, written by Grammy-winning rock star Sting based on his childhood growing up in a shipbuilding town in northeast England, will close later this month, its producers said on Tuesday.

Sting, 63, has been performing in the musical since Dec 9 to boost flagging tickets sales but it was not enough to keep the musical afloat.

"The Last Ship will play its final performance on Broadway on Saturday, Jan 24," its producers said in a statement, adding that Sting will continue in the musical until it closes.

In the first full week of Sting's performances, the musical that cost US$15 million (S$20 million) to stage took in more than US$817,000, up from US$491,000 the previous week.

Last week The Last Ship grossed US$953,165 with 83 per cent of capacity, compared with Wicked, which pulled in US$2.7 million and The Lion King with US$2.5 million.

The Last Ship opened on Oct 26 to mixed reviews with Sting winning praise for his foot-stomping, melodic score. But critics found the story about a shipbuilder's son who returns home after 15 years to a town hit by recession and a former girlfriend who has moved on, tangled.

He joins the unemployed shipyard workers to build one last ship. Sting replaced British actor Jimmy Nail as Jackie White, the foreman of the closed shipyard in the town of Wallsend.

"Brave captain takes the helm," said the New York Post in a headline about Sting's performance, while USA Today added: "Sting steers Last Ship with pride, charisma."

The closing of the musical follows the release of figures on Monday showing Broadway had its best-attended and highest grossing calendar year in 2014 with 13.1 million people seeing shows that brought in US$1.36 billion.

Attendance at shows rose 13 per cent over the 2013 calendar year and grosses were up 14 per cent.

Broadway also enjoyed its highest grossing Christmas and New Year's weeks.