Sean McPherson talks to Sting about 'The Last Ship'

Sting talking with Sean McPherson
Sting talks to The Current's Sean McPherson. (Jim McGuinn | MPR)
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Sean McPherson talks to Sting about 'The Last Ship'
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The acclaimed musical, The Last Ship, starring and featuring original music and lyrics by Sting, will make its regional premiere at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul for two weeks running April 8 to 19, 2020, as part of an international tour. Sting will star as shipyard foreman Jackie White, and he will perform the role at every performance.

In the run-up to the tour, Sting — né Gordon Sumner, and who rose to international renown as the frontman for the Police and with several solo albums — visited the Ordway to speak to a small audience and to talk about the upcoming production.

Among those in attendance was The Current's own Sean McPherson, who had a few minutes to speak to the Grammy-winning singer and songwriter. Listen to their conversation using the audio player above, and read a transcript of their conversation below.

Interview Transcript

SEAN McPHERSON: Thanks for spending a little time with The Current.

STING: The Current?

Yeah, that's a radio station in town. We love playing your music, and we're very excited about The Last Ship. I wanted to ask how you make that transition from being the writer and thinking it all up, to being a cast member and where ultimately you have to be part of a team.

Well, I had no intention of being in this play; I wrote it for friends of mine who are actors, and I was just going to stand back and enjoy it — which I've done!

But then at one point, the producers said — we were on Broadway — they said, "We need to sell more tickets — you have to be in the play."

I said, "Where can I be in the play???"

"You gotta do it."

So eventually I agreed to do it, but once I was onstage, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And then I did it again in Toronto at the beginning of the year. I'm here on this tour and next year. And it's a challenge — it's a wonderful challenge, but it's also something I didn't plan. So it's just one of those happy accidents. I'm glad I'm doing it now.

Well, we're glad you're doing it, and I think it does help to know that the person who wrote the thing is actually going to be there performing.

I will be here!

Now when you have written for things as small as a power trio, and then you end up creating something for a much larger ensemble and a much bigger footprint, what are the differences?

Well, I'm helped a great deal by musical directors and arrangers. I wrote the songs; luckily, I didn't have to write all the arrangements. I'm really lucky to have somebody called Rob Mathes who does the arrangements for me.

But I've always had a big vision for music. I'm interested in music for the theater. I think the theater now is one of the few places where people will sit down in the dark and actually listen to what you've written. Music in the modern era seems to be more of a commodity you just turn on; you don't know where it comes from or who wrote it, really — it's just like coffee! So the theater is somewhere where I think people take the work seriously. They listen intently. That's good for a writer.

The Last Ship stages at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul., Minn., for a limited engagement beginning April 8, 2020 as part of 2019-2020 Broadway at the Ordway.

Interview transcribed by Luke Taylor.

External Links

Sting - official site

The Last Ship at the Ordway

5 Photos

  • Sting at the Ordway
    Sting performs at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (Tim McGuire)
  • Sting talking with Sean McPherson
    Sting talks with The Current's Sean McPherson. (Jim McGuinn | MPR)
  • Sting at the Ordway
    Sting speaks to an audience at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (Tim McGuire)
  • Sting at the Ordway
    Sting performs at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (Tim McGuire)
  • Jim McGuinn, Sting, Sean McPherson
    Sting (center) with The Current's Jim McGuinn and Sean McPherson. (courtesy Jim McGuinn)