Sting is getting ready to bring his musical The Last Ship to Broadway in the fall of 2014, and in a recent interview with the Associated Press, the British rocker says he's very aware of the challenges of becoming a Broadway composer.
"A good song can last for three minutes and you're just expressing one emotion," Sting told the AP, "You can't have that in the theater. The narrative needs to be advanced as the song is being sung." Sting's aim? "I want to surprise an audience; I want to surprise the listener. I want to surprise myself. To me the essence of music is surprise, every eight bars you need a surprise, otherwise people fall asleep."
The backbone of the musical theater version of The Last Ship is the former Police frontman's latest solo album of the same name, and it draws inspiration from his childhood. The show is set in an English seafaring town that operates around the local shipyard and follows a man who left home to see the world and returns 14 years later to find that the future of the shipyard is in danger. Sting recently headlined a series of benefit concerts at the Public Theater, which included storytelling and pub-like folk tunes from the album.
The musical will play a pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago next summer (June 10-July 13) at the Bank of America Theatre. In addition to Sting’s score, the musical features an all-star creative team, including a book by Tony winner John Logan (Red) and Pulitzer Prize winner Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal) and direction by two-time Tony winner Joe Mantello.
Tony-winning producer Jeffrey Seller (Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights), who's helping shepherd the musical to the Great White Way, compares his reaction to The Last Ship with his initial experience hearing Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent. "When he told me about that story, I immediately fell in love with this odyssey," Seller told the AP about Sting's musical. "I loved it as much as when Jonathan Larson told me, 'I want to do La Boheme in the East Village where instead of suffering from tuberculosis, Mimi suffers from AIDS.'"
Check out a sample of Sting's album, The Last Ship, in the video below.