Cast Announced for Regional Premiere of Sting's THE LAST SHIP in Utah
Pioneer Theatre Company presents the regional premiere of The Last Ship, the semi-autobiographical lyrical musical by the world-renowned musician Sting. Sting wrote the music and lyrics; the book was written by the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning writers John Logan and Brian Yorkey.
The musical will run from September 16 - October 1, 2016. Tickets for the production go on sale to the general public beginning August 31, 2016 at 10 a.m.
PTC's production will be the first since the show's Tony-nominated (Best Original Score) Broadway run in 2014-2015. PTC is the only theatre in the country given the honor of producing the musical that The New York Times said features, "a seductive score that ranks among the best composed by a rock or pop figure on Broadway."
The Last Ship is the story of Gideon Fletcher. Gideon is a young man who upon the death of his father returns to the small ship-building town he left years before. The musical tells of his efforts to come to terms with his past while grappling with the man he has become. Drawing on his own childhood memories, Sting has fashioned this moving musical about the town in northern England in which he grew up:
"I didn't want to work in the shipyards myself - it was a terrifying place," said Sting when describing how he came to create The Last Ship to Park City's KPCW in a recent interview. "I figured I had to escape. Music became my avenue of escape. But I always recognized how important that environment was to who I am and why I became who I became. So I wanted to go back and really pay tribute to the community I came from."
In describing the play's themes, Sting said, "It's a play about work, the importance of work, the pride of work, the importance of community and family. Those issues are universal, and I think the people of Salt Lake City will get them, will appreciate them, and recognize in their own community and in their own work something that resonates with them too. I am extremely excited to come and visit and see the play."
When describing its appeal to theatre audiences, PTC Artistic Director Karen Azenberg, who is directing and choreographing The Last Ship, said, "It's about so much more than the very specifics of this story - and I think that's great. That's what theatre is at its best. I think one of the things about Utah that I understand and love is the importance of family and family heritage. It's tremendous here. And the parallel to the people in this show is undeniable. Gideon, the central character, the prodigal son who comes home, is a theme you hear and see a lot, and our audiences will recognize a little piece of themselves in a surprising way. It's exciting for audiences to see a world far, far away but at the same time being able to recognize commonality."
The production contains some strong language.
STING is a composer, singer, author, actor and activist, earning 16 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and three Oscar nominations. He's sold close to 100 million albums from his combined work with his band The Police and as a solo artist. This is his first Broadway play and he was honored with a Tony-Nomination for Best Original Score.
John Logan (Book) received the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle and Drama League awards for his play Red. He co-wrote (with Brian Yorkey) the book for the musical The Last Ship and is the author of more than a dozen other plays including Never the Sinner and Hauptmann. Logan has been three times nominated for the Oscar and has received a Golden Globe, BAFTA and WGA Award.
Brian Yorkey (Book) received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the Tony Award for Best Score for Next to Normal. He received another Tony nomination for the score of If/Then starring Idina Menzel. Yorkey and Logan received the Outer Critic's Award for The Last Ship.
Bryant Martin and Ruthie Stephens make their debut as Gideon Fletcher and Meg Dawson. Martin's regional credits include Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Lyric Stage of Irving. Stephens' recent credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, A Little Night Music and Les Misèrables.
Dan Sharkey and Anne Tolpegin debut at PTC as shipyard foreman Jackie White and his wife, Peggy. Sharkey appeared on Broadway in Amazing Grace, The Bridges of Madison County, SpiderMan-Turn Off the Dark and The Music Man. He also appeared as Herb Crocker on HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Tolepegin appeared on Broadway in Kinky Boots, Billy Elliot, A Tale of Two Cities, Ragtime, Mamma Mia! and Les Misèrables.
Broadway veteran John Jellison performs as Father O'Brien, the town's Parish priest. He has appeared on Broadway in Motown-The Musical, Memphis, All Shook Up, Phantom Of The Opera, Caroline Or Change, Oklahoma! Putting It Together, Anything Goes, On The Town, Paul Simon's The Capeman, Titanic, Crazy For You, Mastergate, Me And My Girl, Sunday In The Park With George, Nick And Nora, Wind In The Willows, Baby, Zalmen Or The Madness Of God and Sweet Bird Of Youth. This is his PTC debut.
Paul Castree returns to PTC, after appearing in 2013's Something's Afoot, as Arthur, the man who has loved Meg and helped raise her son while envisioning a new life for the shipyard. He was on Broadway in this year's Tony-nominated Disaster! as well as in 9 to 5, Young Frankenstein, High Fidelity, All Shook Up, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Grease!.
The young characters are played by James Crichton (Tom, Meg's teenaged son), BAILee Johnson (Young Meg) and SETH PIKE (Young Gideon). Crichton performed in the National Tour of Peter and the Starcatcher. Johnson returns to PTC after appearing in The Philadelphia Story and Annie. Pike is a senior at Skyline HS in Salt Lake City, and this is his PTC debut.
Local actors BAILEY CUMMINGS, RICHIE CALL, TAMARI DUNBAR, NATALIA NOBLE, JAMIE LANDRUM, ARIELLE SCHMIDT and CORY REED STEPHENS complete the cast.
PTC Artistic Director Karen Azenberg directs and choreographs this production in her fifth season, after having directed Fiddler on the Roof, The Rocky Horror Show and It Happened One Christmas last season. Originally from New York, Azenberg's work there includes Lyrics and Lyricists (92nd St. Y), Blocks (a collaboration with Jonathan Larson), Prom Queens Unchained, and choreography for Richard Greenberg's The Dazzle (Roundabout).
Helen Gregory returns as the show's musical director and conductor for her 8th production at PTC. Some of her past PTC productions have been Fiddler on the Roof, both of our The Rocky Horror Shows, Rent, In the Heights, Something's Afoot and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Scenic design is by guest artist James Noone. He has designed previously for PTC, most recently Cowgirls, and has worked for some of NYC's most prestigious theatre companies including Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company and numerous others. His Broadway productions include Jekyll and Hyde, Class Act, The Persians, Judgment at Nuremberg, Night Must Fall, The Sunshine Boys, The Gin Game, A Bronx Tale and Come Back Little Sheba.
Gregory Gale returns as Costumer Designer after last year's Cowgirls. His Broadway credits include Cyrano de Bergerac, Rock of Ages; Arcadia; The Wedding Singer; Urinetown, and Band in Berlin.
Michael Gilliam, Lighting Designer, returns after designing last season's Two Dollar Bill. Broadway credits include: Bonnie and Clyde, Brooklyn, Big River and Stand-Up Tragedy. His National tours include Peter Pan, Brooklyn, Guys and Dolls and Big River.
Sound design is by Resident Sound Designer JOSHUA C. HIGHT. Hight is an established live sound engineer in both London and Salt Lake City. His other projects of note include working with Sommerset House for the 2012 Olympic Games, Of Monsters and Men, Collective Soul, Fallout Boy, Slash, the Psychedelic Furs, Citizen Cope, the Dropkick Murphys, Gogol Bordello, Kate Nash, Easton Corbin, Sevendust and many more.
Hair and makeup design is by PTC resident designer AMANDA FRENCH. French has worked for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Utah Opera, Egyptian Theatre Company and the University of Texas, Austin. She is a contributing writer in the tenth edition of Stage Makeup by Corson, Glavan and Norcross, and her work can be seen in The Costume Technician's Handbook by Ingham and Covey, and Wig Making and Styling: A Complete Guide for Theatre and Film by Ruskai and Lowery.
ALEXANDRA HARBOLD is the Dramaturge for this production, and SARAH SHIPPOBOTHAM is the Dialect Coach.