Sting Sets Out to Save 'The Last Ship'

Lou Rocco/ABC

Sting appears on "The View" on November 10, 2014.

Sting is not letting The Last Ship sink without a fight.

The former Police frontman, who composed the score for the Broadway musical set in his Northern English hometown, will join the cast as speculated, in a bid to lift the $15 million production's struggling box office.

A story posted Sunday night on The New York Times confirmed the move, which had first been rumored in a Nov. 10 column item in The New York Daily News. That earlier report also indicated that Sting would waive his royalties from the musical in a bid to keep weekly running costs down and help producers through what was clearly shaping up to be a major commercial challenge.

Watch Sting, 'Last Ship' Musical Cast Sing 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' on the Sidewalk

Sting will join the production starting Dec. 9 and appearing through Jan. 10, traditionally the busiest period of the year for Broadway theatergoing. He steps into the role of shipyard foreman Jackie White, currently being played by British singer-songwriter Jimmy Nail. Sting last appeared on Broadway as Macheath in a 1989 production of The Threepenny Opera.

The story of The Last Ship centers on a young man named Gideon who comes from a long line of shipbuilders. He has a bitter falling out with his father over his refusal to shackle himself to a dying industry, prompting Gideon to run off and leave behind the love of his life. His return years later coincides with a valiant show of strength by the unemployed shipyard workers to honor their proud tradition.

Written by John Logan and Brian Yorkey, and directed by Joe Mantello, the show received generally positive reviews for Sting's evocative score and Mantello's atmospheric staging. However, the book was widely criticized for its cargo of cliches and for attempting to pass off improbable plotting as poetic allegory. Those notices did not yield the hoped-for post-opening box office bump.

Sting and His 'The Last Ship' Cast Prep for Broadway Opening

Following a summer tryout run in Chicago, the musical began previews on Sept. 29 at Broadway's 1,349-seat Neil Simon Theatre and officially opened on Oct. 26. It has failed to crack $600,000 in any single week, with cumulative grosses of less than $3.8 million through Nov. 16. Audience capacity has hovered around the 60 percent mark for the past three weeks. The Times coverage estimates that the show's weekly running cost is at least $625,000.

The presence of a bona fide music-industry star has been known to have a sizable impact on box office, if not a lasting one.

Green Day lead Billie Joe Armstrong joined the cast of the Broadway musical adaptation of American Idiot in two separate stints during the show's 2010-11 run, both times bringing a significant boost to ticket sales. However, grosses suffered a steep dropoff following the end of Armstrong's second special guest star engagement, and the production closed soon after, without going into profit.

Sting Reflects on Life at 63, His Own Mortality and a ‘Possible Third Act’

Whether Sting can keep The Last Ship afloat, let alone create enough forward momentum to keep it going beyond Jan. 10 and attract the attention of Tony Awards voters, remains to be seen. The composer and lead producer Jeffrey Seller (Avenue Q) are scheduled to meet with press to formally announce their plans for the show's future on Monday morning.

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