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Sting Steps in For Sick Cast Member in His Show, "The Last Ship"

by VVN Music

Sting revisited some familiar territory in more ways than one on Monday (March 19) in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England.

The singer performed at the Northern Stage, the same venue where he started his career in the mid-70's, playing bass in the pit orchestra.  Currently playing at the Northern Stage is a reworked edition of Sting's musical The Last Ship.

Sting wrote both the music and lyrics for The Last Ship which started as a concept album in 2013 telling the story of the singer's youth around the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear. The album was transferred into a musical that premiered in the summer of 2014 at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago.

The Last Ship moved to Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, starting previews on September 29 and opening October 26, 2014.  It closed on January 24, 2015 after 29 previews and 105 performances but went on to receive Tony Award nominations for Original Score and Orchestrations the following May.

For the performance on Monday, actor Joe Caffrey, who plays Billy Thompson, the show's lead, was ill and couldn't perform so Sting stepped in to sing the song "Underground River".  Although he did appear in the Broadway edition of the show, he didn't try to recreate his performance in England, turning over the role to understudy Michael Blair for the rest of the show.

Director Lorne Campbell said "We spent all afternoon working hard to make sure the show went ahead and I’m pleased to say the brilliant Michael Blair stepped in to perform the role of Billy. Plus, audiences may have spotted a familiar face as Sting took to the stage to sing ‘Underground River.’"

Sting added "I didn’t wake up in the morning expecting I would be performing on the stage in the evening but when one of the cast goes down, it’s all hands on deck."