Last night Chicago had the opportunity to see a spanking-brand new musical explode into being when the testosterone-fueled The Last Ship began previews. With music and lyrics by Sting, a book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey--the still-in-preview show has damn fine bones.
Musically Sting sampled a variety of musical styles, creating a body of work that had the audience feet a tapping and hands a clapping. Of course there were the traditional musical comedy reprises, all the better to sink songs into an audience's brain. For to paraphrase Richard Rodgers, it's a hit if they leave the theatre humming the songs. When my dreams were accompanied by some of the images and music, I had to believe the show will be ready by Fall to go to NYC to play in that Big Theatrical Sandbox called Broadway.
Yes, there were some wee issues. A song or scene here or there that--well, yeah, I wouldn't miss. Actors mikes that were overpowered by drums who forgot who was supposed to back-up whom. Jokes that were lost in the lower reaches of the Balcony of the Bank of America Theatre. Always frustrating to hear the audience in the orchestra laughing at something you cannot hear. Then the few Geordie accents that were on wobbly tongues. Superfluous details in this work-in-progress. It was a preview after all.
Nevertheless the minimalist, flexible stage worked beautifully. And what wasn't to love love about Fred Applegate's outstanding potty-mouthed 21st century embodiment of "always the priest" actor, Pat O'Brien? And this is a rock musical, for today's ears. None of that moon-June-spoon sappy treacle of another era. The Last Ship is a man's musical, about a man in a man's world. Women will love it too.
So with a few nips and tucks, I fully expect a year from now to hear that the Tony was won by---
And Chicago, you got the opportunity to see it first. A work in progress.
One quirky moment was the slam on the bar of a glass in pub scenes. Nothing says it IS theatre like the sound of plastic rather than the traditional sound of a pub glass.