Sting has rowed to the rescue of his Wallsend-inspired musical The Last Ship, agreeing to replace old friend Jimmy Nail on the Broadway stage.
He will aim to give the show a boost by stepping into the role of yard foreman Jackie White on December 9 – but only for four weeks, after which fellow Geordie Nail will pick up the reins again and Sting will embark on the European leg of his extensive tour with Paul Simon.
Reports from America suggest that the show, from an idea by Sting and with his original songs and lyrics, has been struggling to find an audience.
Reviews were mixed. While The New York Times praised its “seductive beauty of a score” and Time Out New York called it “magnificent and rollicking”, the Hollywood Reporter declared it “dull”.
A spokeswoman for Sting said yesterday: “Broadway is one of those tough places where you just never know. It’s not like anywhere else. People put in so much work but you’re really just rolling the dice.”
She added that everyone hoped the show would pick up with Sting in the cast.
Sting himself said: “We have spent five years working on The Last Ship and I have relished every moment of that process.
“Taking to the stage is a continuation of that and I now accept the baton from my good friend and fellow Geordie Jimmy Nail, who provided so much inspiration for the character of Jackie White.
“It is my distinct honour to join this remarkable cast and play the part of Jackie until I pass the baton back to Jimmy.”
Producer Jeffrey Seller said joining the cast was “a natural progression” for Sting who had been “the motor” of the show.
But in an interview with The New York Times, he confessed: “We need a boost, we need a breakthrough, we need some ammo.”
The Last Ship tells of a group of shipyard workers who dream up one last ambitious project after being told their yard is to close.
It is also a love story centred on the character of Gideon, a North East prodigal son, and a woman who must choose between the two loves of her life.
An early version of the show was performed at Live Theatre in Newcastle and found favour with an audience including ex-shipyard workers.
A much amended version opened in Chicago and then transferred to Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre at the end of October.
An original Broadway cast recording of The Last Ship is to be released by Universal Music Classics on December 16.
On April 24 and 25 next year Sting will perform two sell-out gigs at Sage Gateshead, singing songs from the show and the related album in aid of the venue’s 10th Birthday Appeal.
Sting made his Broadway acting debut in 1989 playing Mack the Knife in a production of The Threepenny Opera.