|Englishmen in New York: Sting on board QM2 with Capt Kevin Oprey|
Superstar Sting took his new musical to Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 this week. Two days after The Last Ship premiered on Broadway, he performed a selection of numbers on the stage of the ship’s Royal Court Theatre.
In April next year the show will be performed at the Sage in Gateshead to benefit the venue’s 10th birthday appeal. Sting will be joined by a selection of the north-east’s finest traditional musicians, including Northumbrian pipe player Kathryn Tickell, and the Wilson Family from Billingham.
Sting wrote The Last Ship around his memories of growing up in the shadow of a shipyard on the Tyne. He said: "Cunard is one of the most famous names in shipping and a lot of very notable ships were built on Tyneside – Mauretania and Carpathia, to name but two. There’s a great lineage.
"I was born and raised in Wallsend in the shadow of the Swan Hunter shipyard. My earliest memories are of ships being built and launched into the river. You couldn’t escape Swan Hunter – there was a coal mine at one end of town and Swan Hunter at the other, so these ships loomed over our houses.
"With The Last Ship, I thought I would try and honour the community that I came from. Because everyone around me worked in the Swan Hunter shipyard. My grandfather worked in the shipyard. All his brothers worked in the shipyard. My family has had things to do with the sea for many years.”
He added: “Cunard are backing the concert that we are doing with the Sage in Gateshead. It’s a benefit for the Sage. It’s only right and fitting to take this story back in some form to the people who inspired it, so I’m really happy to do that.”
The Last Ship opened to rave reviews. One critic described it as “a wonderful, ebullient surprise full of heart and soul that lights up the New York theatre season like fresh fireworks.”
Sting’s QM2 show, in front of a specially-invited audience, also included old favourites such as Message In A Bottle, and – appropriately enough – An Englishman in New York.