Review Roundup: Sting In THE LAST SHIP In Toronto
The Canadian Premiere of Sting's acclaimed musical, THE LAST SHIP starring and featuring original music and lyrics by multiple Grammy Award' winner Sting is now on stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre through March 24, 2019.
Sting stars as shipyard foreman, Jackie White. The cast also includes: Frances McNamee (Meg Dawson), Oliver Savile (Gideon Fletcher), Jackie Morrison (Peggy White), Marc Akinfolarin (Adrian Sanderson), Joe Caffrey (Billy Thompson), Orla Gormley (Mrs. Dees), Annie Grace (Baroness Tynedale), Sean Kearns (Freddy Newlands & Old Joe), Sophie Reid (Ellen Dawson), Jade Sophia Vertannes (Young Meg), Kevin Wathen (Davey Harrison), and Barney Wilkinson (Young Gideon). Rounding out the cast are: Philip Childs, Susan Fay, Rebecca Gilhooley, Tom Parsons and James William-Pattison.
The limited six-week engagement of THE LAST SHIP began performances February 9 and will play through March 24, 2019 at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre and is part of the 2018/19 Mirvish Subscription Season.
The Last Ship, which was initially inspired by Sting's 1991 album The Soul Cages and his own childhood experiences, tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the Swan Hunter shipyard.
When a sailor named Gideon Fletcher returns home after seventeen years at sea, tensions between past and future flare in both his family and his town. The local shipyard, around which the community has always revolved, is closing and no-one knows what will come next, only that a half-built ship towers over the terraces. With the engine fired and pistons in motion, picket lines are drawn as foreman Jackie White and his wife Peggy fight to hold their community together in the face of the gathering storm.
This personal, political and passionate new musical from multiple Grammy Award winner Sting, is an epic account of a family, a community and a great act of defiance. The Last Ship features an original score with music and lyrics by Sting as well as a few of his best-loved songs; Island of Souls, All This Timeand When We Dance. It is the proud story of when the last ship sails.
The show is directed by Lorne Campbell, the artistic director of Northern Stage and has set design by the Tony Award-winning 59 Productions- team behind the video design for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The Last Ship has a new book by Lorne Campbell, original book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey, orchestrations by Rob Mathes, musical direction by Richard John, costume design by Molly Einchcomb, movement direction by Lucy Hind, lighting design by Matt Daw and sound design by Seb Frost. Other members of the creative team are dramaturg and associate director Selma Dimitrijevic, casting director Beth Edenand associate musical director (U.K.) Sam Sommerfeld.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Carly Maga, Toronto Star: Sting, obviously a practised performer, is more than a marketing plug: he brings an intriguing shift in energy and stage presence beside his classically trained cast mates, noticeably relaxed and effortless. Even if it comes at the expense of his diction in the musical's opening number "We've Got Nowt Else," his voice floats on air. Both he and the set by 59 Productions, featuring projections on the bones of an industrial space, are reasons to potentially forgive The Last Ship's missteps.
Wayne Leung, Mooney on Theatre: Overall, I thought The Last Ship was a mixed bag. If you're a fan of Sting you'll likely relish the opportunity to see him perform live in this unique context but if you're just a casual theatre-goer you may find, as I did, that the show still has room for improvement.
Alexandra Heilbron, Tribute: My only problem was that the production uses heavy North East English accents, which are difficult to understand at first. One female character with a more recognizable upper-class British accent helped the scene she was in make sense, while Orla Gormley, who spoke in her native Irish accent, was also easily understandable. But it was a struggle to realize what the rest of the cast, especially at the beginning, were saying/singing. However, that was the only drawback and once my ear fine-tuned to the accents, I began to understand the story.
J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail: The Last Ship does not seem entirely shipshape in its first act. Ellie's opening monologue is followed by what feels like four opening numbers in a row, then before long we suddenly head into intermission on a plot plateau rather than a cliffhanger. But the longer second act mostly makes up for that - and the unconventional family reunion between Gideon, Meg and Ellie and the drama by the docks begin to make waves.