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Entertainment & Arts

Sting musical ‘The Last Ship’ struggling at Broadway box office

Michael Esper, Fred Applegate
Michael Esper, left, and Fred Applegate, in a scene from the musical “The Last Ship” at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York.
(Joan Marcus / Associated Press)

The sea has been choppy for “The Last Ship,” the new Broadway musical from pop star Sting.

The high-profile production about love and labor strife in a depressed English shipping village officially opened in New York last week to mixed reviews. Box-office results for its first post-opening week were also gloomy.

“The Last Ship” brought in $495,069 in ticket sales for the week ending Sunday, just 39.8% of its potential gross at the Neil Simon Theatre. The gross figure, reported by the nonprofit Broadway League, is considered to be disappointing for a new musical with a famous name attached to it.

Sting, who wrote the songs for the musical but doesn’t appear in it, has been actively promoting the production in New York. He recently appeared on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and sat down with James Lipton for an “Inside the Actors Studio” interview.

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The musical is loosely based on Sting’s own life, following a young man (Michael Esper) who returns to his working-class town in northeast England, where labor unrest is growing among the town’s shipbuilders.

Complicating the plot is a romantic conflict between the protagonist and his former girlfriend.

“The Last Ship” has a reported $14-million price tag plus weekly costs. Those costs typically run into the several hundreds of thousands of dollars per week for a Broadway musical.

Promoters of “The Last Ship” are rolling out initiatives to help stoke public interest and keep the musical afloat.

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Last week, they announced discounted tickets for union members, who can receive the discount by showing their union cards at the box office or through a special Ticketmaster.com page that is accessible to some AFL-CIO members.

New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel recently wrote that the show’s producers plan on rolling out a TV-commercial campaign that is intended to juice ticket sales.

“The Last Ship” features songs from Sting’s 2013 album of the same name. The rock musician has received mostly strong reviews for his compositions, which represent his first venture as a Broadway composer.

But critics have found fault with the two plotlines as well as some of the characters who they found to be unoriginal.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT


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