The Last Ship wraps its emotional arm around you from the first note and never let's go. The new musical from 16-time Grammy Award winner Sting is having its tryout at The Bank of America Theatre before opening at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre in October. Inspired by his own childhood experiences growing up in a ship-building community, Sting has composed a brilliant score that is both lyrical and stirring. The excellent book by John Logan and Brian Yorker tells a tender, and at times, tough love story and under the flawless direction of Joe Mantello the evening flows by never losing pace or purpose.
The setting is the town of Wallsend, an English seafaring community, where life has always revolved around the local shipyard. Young Gideon Fletcher, however had dreams of a different future and set out to travel the world leaving both his life and love behind. He returns 14 years later to find the shipyard's future in grave danger and his childhood sweetheart engaged to someone else. He hopes to rekindle the romance but finds himself immersed in the efforts of the community to save a dying way of life. As much as he would like to leave again, his memories of a dying father, his first true love and close knit friends immerse him in a new struggle to help build one more ship.
Their are a number of aspects of this production I find memorable. The choreography by Steven Hoggett is as macho as anything I've ever seen on a stage. Their are only a few momenta when someone isn't moving in a way to express their connection to the story. It's remarkably imaginative. The inclusion of the local parish priest isn't anything new (Shakespeare had it down pat) but they got a great actor to do it in Fred Applegate and he's a lot more than just a sidebar. If I mentioned all the cast members and how good they are I'd run out of adjectives. This show is perfectly cast. They can all act and sing beautifully.
This is an inventive, emotionally gripping production and a memorable evening of theatre. The Last Ship continues at The Bank of America Theatre, 18 West Monroe, through July 13th. Tickets at 800-775-2000, all Ticketmaster locations and on line at www.BroadwayinChicago.com.
Filed under: Theatre Reviews