Jimmy Nail was due to take the starring role in the show set against the backdrop of the North East dockyards, but with less than two months to go until opening night he has been replaced by Joe McGann.
He said: “I was very much looking forward to appearing in Sting’s ‘The Last Ship’, particularly here in my home city. Sadly that’s not to be. I would like to thank the production in allowing FACT, the charity of which I’m a patron, to benefit from the planned gala charity event. To anyone who has purchased a ticket, please, go see the show and give this vessel the launch it so deserves. You’ll hear some of the finest musical works ever composed for the stage.”
This is the second incarnation of The Last Ship, which premiered in the summer of 2014 in Chicago, before moving to Broadway starring Jimmy Nail, but it lasted just five months. While Sting has always insisted the show wasn’t a flop in the US, much has been invested in its UK homecoming which sees it opening in Newcastle before coming to Leeds Grand Theatre in May.
Karl Sydow, producer of The Last Ship, said: “After protracted negotiations carried out in good faith we regret to announce the production’s offer of employment to Jimmy Nail has been withdrawn. All at The Last Ship thank him for his generosity and enormous contribution during what has been an eight year journey.”
The Last Ship, which was initially inspired by Sting’s 1991 album The Soul Cages and his own childhood experiences, tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the Swan Hunter shipyard.