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Review Roundup: Sting's Broadway-Bound THE LAST SHIP

Review Roundup: Sting's Broadway-Bound THE LAST SHIP

The Pre-Broadway World Premiere of The Last Ship, the new musical with music and lyrics by 16-time Grammy Award winner Sting, and book by Tony winner John Logan and Pulitzer Prize-winnerBrian Yorkey, opened at the Bank of America Theatre (18 W Monroe) and plays through July 13, 2014. The Last Ship is directed by Tony winner Joe Mantello and has choreography by Olivier Award winner and Tony nominee Steven Hoggett. The Last Ship will begin previews on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre (250 W. 52 St.) on September 29 prior to opening night on October 26, 2014.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune: Many aspects of this show already are in fine fettle for this stage in the game, courtesy of classy direction by Joe Mantello (the climax of both acts, thanks also to a carefully scaled and concealing design from David Zinn, already are quite dazzling). And Steven Hoggett's now familiar mastery of making working-class people move as if from the depth of their gut rather than at a choreographer's behest (although I think Hoggett could yet do more with this cast from that point of view, this being a very different creature from "Once"). "The Last Ship" has a cast not of pretty dancers but of honest and gritty actors. The ensemble sounds spectacular but they could yet contribute more, especially in scenes that still have the air of a semi-staged concept album.

Kris Vire of Time Out: The Last Ship doesn't steer entirely clear of cliché-its setup evokes easy comparisons to everything from Kinky Boots (English son finds meaning in reluctantly helping family business facing layoffs) to Rent (imagine Arthur as a class-traitor analogue to Benny). And yet it smartly undercuts other tropes, particularly in the boy-gets-girl-back arena, which gets resolved in an astute and sweet Act II duet between Gideon and Meg titled "It's Not the Same Moon." Steven Hoggett's muscular choreography, with its stutter-step play on balance and imbalance in dynamic group numbers like "We've Got Now't Else," provides a lot of heft, and Joe Mantello's direction keeps everything moving fluidly and, for the most part, honestly.

Alan Bresloff of Around the Town Chicago: This is a well-directed show(Joe Mantello) with choreography (Steven Hoggett) that is very English/Irish in style, almost as if the "Lord of The Dance" inspired many of the steps. The set (David Zinn, who also designed the costumes) is very basic of the times, and does not take away from the story and the music with typical "glitz" that many new Broadway productions feel are more important than the story. In fact, lately, many of the shows use a great deal of Technology/video projections which are often a distraction. In this production, the few projections are important and never take away from the lovely story that is being presented to us. It is Sting's story to tell and while the book is solid, I found that the lyrics and the haunting melodies that Sting has brought to this production are thought-provoking and meaningful. Several songs are reprised (they worked)and "The Last Ship" title song, which is reprised several times is almost poetical in melody and in content.

Candace Drimmer of Chicago Now: 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.

Misha Davenport of Gideon Fletcher (a superb Michael Esper) returns to his North East England home town after an absence of 15 years. He has missed his father's funeral (no love lost there; dad -played by Jamie Jackson-- was a drunk who abused him nightly and was disappointed when Gideon opted to stow away on the first freighter he could rather than work in the shipyard). Rather naïvely, he expects to find things as they were when he left. The ship yard has been shuttered and sold to a salvage company, effectively ending what meager livelihood that was had by the working men and women of the town.

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