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.