Sting fans came out in force Wednesday to attend the opening-night performance of “The Last Ship” at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The 17-time Grammy Award winner not only wrote the show’s music and lyrics but also plays the role of the shipyard foreman.
Stars streaming into the theater included Courteney Cox, Pierce Brosnan, Laurence Fishburne, Camilla Belle, Rachel Bloom, Melanie Griffith, Conrad Ricamora, Iain Armitage, Shawna Hamic, Shaggy, Daisy Fuentes, Michelle Kwan, Keala Settle and Sting’s bandmates, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland from the Police.
“Tonight, the Ahmanson Theatre is the place to be,” said Settle on entering the theater. “The Greatest Showman” actress said she’d seen the original Broadway production with a different cast. “So, it will be nice to see Sting in it. I can’t wait.”
“The Last Ship” tells the story of Sting’s hometown in England. Once famous for its shipbuilding industry, the town is about to have its last ship sold for scrap metal, leaving the shipbuilders out of work. The play opened on Broadway in 2014 to mixed reviews, but the production has been rewritten with a new story set against the shipyard’s closure.
In this new version, a man returns after 17 years at sea during the town’s turmoil to find the woman he left behind — as well as a daughter he knew nothing about who yearns to become a musician and escape the town.
During a chat in the lobby, Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler, said, “I’m immeasurably proud of [Sting] because he stayed with it. … The score was lauded and applauded and nominated for a Tony, but they criticized the book. So, Sting said, ‘We have to get it right then,’ and he re-created the book with Lorne [Campbell]. ... This is who [Sting] is. He’s very tenacious. This is his story, of men that he knew, his town, some of his family members. This is their story, and so he had to get it right.”
After the final bows, Fishburne said, “I’ve been a fan since I first heard the Police. [Sting] is a great songwriter. He’s a great storyteller. He’s a wonderful actor. He just told a beautiful story, and the company is incredible.”
Sting then joined celebrities, fellow cast members and other VIPs at nearby Kendall’s Brasserie for cocktails, sandwiches, sliders and other treats during an afterparty. There, as photographers snapped photos, people crowded in to congratulate all the players involved in the production.
Brosnan called the play “amazing,” while Armitage said he had already seen the play three times on Broadway. What did the “Young Sheldon” actor think of this production? “I liked them both,” he said.
As for the story’s real ending, Sting said the people in his hometown of Wallsend, England, are now building wind turbines. And what about the musical’s future? After the Los Angeles run, the show moves on to San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Detroit.
Referencing the changing auto industry, he said, “They’ll understand [the story] in Detroit.”
‘The Last Ship’
Where: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. L.A.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays; ends Feb. 16 (call for exceptions)
Tickets: $35-$160 (subject to change)
Information: (213) 972-4400 or centertheatregroup.org
Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes (including intermission)