My ten-year-old daughter loves the Broadway show “Hamilton.” My daughter’s friends love “Hamilton.” A number of them have memorized the lyrics, and the ones that haven’t been able to see the show have bought the cast album. I find myself playing the album repeatedly, and each time I do, I catch fresh nuances in the lyrics and the music. So when a chance to chat with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the show, came up, I had to take it. I interviewed him right after the word had come down that “Hamilton” had made Broadway history by grabbing 16 Tony nominations, the most-ever for a show. Listen to the podcast.
Hilary Mantel‘s book “Wolf Hall” is about Henry VIII’s brilliant chief minister Thomas Cromwell, but the author is every bit as smart as her subject. Mantel has leveraged writing a literary work of historical fiction into a TV miniseries on PBS and a new Broadway show. As an author–my book “Kingston by Starlight” is a work of historical fiction– I had to find out how she did it. So I sat down with her at the WSJ Cafe, the Wall Street Journal’s video interview series, to get her take on “Wolf Hall”–the book, the TV show and the stage production. I wrote a brief about Mantel for WSJ.com; here’s the video.
Check out my book “Game World” and follow me on Twitter @cjfarley.
The producers of Sting‘s Broadway musical “The Last Ship” announced this morning that the show will be closing on Saturday, January 24.
When the production finishes its four-month run, it will have played 29 preview performances on Broadway and 105 regular performances.
The show had gotten mixed reviews, but many of them were positive. USA Today named it the best musical of 2014. Still, sales had been weak until Sting, the former frontman for the rock band the Police who wrote the music and lyrics for the show, decided to put himself into one of the starring roles. Ticket sales picked up sharply, but it wasn’t enough to save the show.
Along with Wall Street Journal theater reporter Stefanie Cohen, I recently interviewed Sting and co-star Rachel Tucker for the WSJ Cafe, the live arts and culture showcase that I run. Sting told us then that he couldn’t stay in the show past the end of January because he was set to start a tour with Paul Simon. He wouldn’t back out of that commitment because he honored his contracts. Ironically, Simon, who had helped write the Broadway flop “The Capeman,” had once given him some advice about the Great White Way–if the show went south, Simon said, get as far away from it as possible.
Sting didn’t take that advice. He tried to save “The Last Ship” by putting himself in it. Now the show is closing anyway.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the show cost roughly $14 million to mount and took in $8,634,097 over the course of its run.
I saw “The Last Ship” twice. Once without Sting, and another time with him in it. It was a better, more layered show with Sting. I could see and hear his emotional connection to the material, which is about his hometown of Wallsend, a shipbuilding town in England, struggling to come to terms with economic change. He told me he felt the spirits of his parents onstage with him every night.
Sting, in real life, escaped that town and became a rock star. His show pulled him back in, and now, with the end of “The Last Ship,” he must be feeling some of the pain his hometown felt when the shipyards closed.
He was willing to go down with the ship.
My novel “Game World” has a new car smell.