Sting boards his Last Ship musical in effort to keep it from sinking on Broadway

Singer Sting arrives for the opening night of his Broadway Show The Last Ship in New York last month. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Singer Sting arrives for the opening night of his Broadway Show The Last Ship in New York last month. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - British rock star Sting is joining the cast of his deeply personal Broadway musical The Last Ship, calling it a bold gamble to save the show from sinking.

Sting, 63, will appear from Dec 9 to Jan 10 next year as the cynical foreman of a struggling shipyard in his northeast England hometown of Wallsend, producers said on Monday.

The move follows tepid sales and mixed reviews for Sting's first Broadway musical, which opened on Sept 29 after five years in the making. The semi-autobiographical tale revolves around a young man who leaves behind a working class English town where ship building is dying in order to make a better life for himself.

"We are doing pretty well but not enough to be self-sustaining, so the producers said there is one solution - you have to go in the play," Sting said.

"It is a bold gamble and it is not devoid of risk. But this is theatre, this is drama. You have to do whatever it takes. I never assumed this would be easy," the Grammy winner added.

Producer Jeffrey Seller said The Last Ship cost US$15 million (S$19.55 million) to stage. According to recent figures, it is taking in only about US$550,000 a week at the box office, compared with a potential US$1.2 million if every seat was sold at full price.

Seller said he hoped Sting's presence would "generate the next 50,000, theatregoers to get this fire going".

Sting appeared on Broadway in a 1989 production of The Threepenny Opera, and has several movie credits to his name. He will take the part currently being played by his close friend, British actor Jimmy Nail.

"This whole beautiful enterprise that we have been working on for five years is at stake. It was do or die. When Jimmy (Nail) knew that, he said. 'Let's go. Let's do it. Let's save this show'," Seller said.

Seller said he thought the show was struggling because "we didn't want to do the Sting jukebox musical. We wanted to take our shot with something bold, something powerful and deep."

Sting said that while putting on the show was the most difficult thing he has ever done, he is excited to be taking the stage. "I am not nervous. I take the job seriously. I have lots of work to do, but I am confident that I can do it," he said.