Joe Mantello Helms U.K. Reading of Sting-Brian Yorkey Musical The Last Ship

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06 Feb 2012

The Last Ship, the new musical from Grammy-winning musician Sting and Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal co-author Brian Yorkey, arrived in a familiar harbour last week when the work received a reading in Sting's hometown of Newcastle, U.K.



Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello (Other Desert Cities, The Normal Heart) helmed the reading of the musical that has music and lyrics by Sting and a book by Yorkey. The musical had a private New York workshop last October, under Yorkey's direction.

"We've been working on the material with Joe, who is smart and incisive and has really helped us get a handle on the piece," Yorkey told Playbill.com.

The Last Ship incorporates biographical elements from Sting's life and uses his boyhood home, Newcastle, England, for its locale. It features an original score, with a few pre-existing songs from Sting's catalogue, which are given new context in the narrative.

The authors have continued to refine and streamline material since the New York reading. According to Yorkey, two major characters have now been combined into one, and Sting has written a handful of new songs, including one which Yorkey characterizes as "one of the best in the show."

The latest reading featured an all-U.K. cast, including singer-songwriter Declan Bennett (American Idiot) and actor-musician Jimmy Nail, both of whom appeared in the New York reading. Bennett took on the central role of Gideon for the latest presentation.

Also among the cast were James Jacob Lomas (Billy Elliot), Hal Fowler (London Road), Olivier Award nominee Emma Williams (Zorro, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Sally Dexter (Oliver!, Billy Elliot) and Ian Pirie ("The Dark Knight," Black Watch). Rob Mathes musical directed, with Dan Lipton as his associate.

Tony Award-winning producer Jeffrey Seller (Avenue Q, Rent, In the Heights) is attached as producer. Yorkey told Playbill.com that the course for The Last Ship will include another reading and a workshop.

The current goal is to first stage the musical out of town before anchoring in New York and the U.K. A timeline for the production is not yet in place.