The Last Ship at New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

by Julie Wallis

The Last Ship at New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Highly anticipated, The Last Ship is the new musical from Sting is at New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 21st April.

Telling the story of the Wallsend ship builders, who have just been told that the ship they are working on, The Utopia has to be dismantled for scrap as the company that was buying it has now dissolved. Intertwining this The Last Ship tells the story Of Gideon who ran away to sea 17 years ago, leaving behind a broken hearted sweetheart. Gideon returns after the death of his father to find Wallsend and the people he left behind have changed.

The Last Ship Photographs Pamela Raith Photography
The Last Ship Photographs Pamela Raith Photography

Sting grew up in Wallsend with the ship building right at the end of the street where he lived as a child, and so the story of The Last Ship is close to his heart.

As well as a plethora of wonderful new show tunes, The Last Ship also has a superb cast. Staring Richard Fleeshman (Coronation Street) as Gideon, Richard is blessed with a beautiful singing voice as well as being a terrific actor.

063_The Last Ship_Extra Production Photographs_Pamela Raith Photograph

Fleeshman is joined by Joe McGann (The Upper Hand) as ship builder Jackie who is married to Peggy, played by Charlie Hardwick (Emmerdale) both characters are full of pride and passion for shipbuilding and Wallsend. I loved the way Jackie and Peggy worked so well together, they were very much an old married couple.

Charlie Hardwick does sing and I must say she does it surprisingly well. The character of Peggy did move me, almost to tears at times. I found all the characters very real and three dimensional, I invested in these people as their lives unfolded on stage and dare I say, I cared for them. I’m not going to give any spoilers of course, but you’d need a hard heart not to shed a little tear. Then we have feisty Meg, played by Frances McNamee.

041_The Last Ship_Extra Production Photographs_Pamela Raith Photography

With songs including the Waltz like The Night The Pugilist Learned How To Dance, the foot stomping What Have We Got? the touching Dead Mans Boots of course The Last Ship you can’t help but fall in love with at least one new tune.

The set for The Last Ship is quite unlike any stage set I have ever seen before, and I don’t even want to know how it was done as it really is magic. But somehow with just a change of lighting the stage goes from the front room of a terraced house to a shipyard, complete with towering cranes and a behemoth ship dominating the skyline, then another flick of the lights and waves are crashing against the sea front or we are in a rowdy pub bar.

The Last Ship Photographs Pamela Raith Photography
The Last Ship Photographs Pamela Raith Photography

Obviously this is set in the North and as such, all the cast do have accents, my only very slight grumble would be that at times I did struggle with little bits of dialogue when characters were shouting at the management and their MP, but I didn’t lose any of the story as it was literally a couple of words and of course a genuine accent is always welcome.

Sting joined the cast onstage last night to a well deserved standing ovation for what is sure to be a modern classic, The Last Ship is a gritty, and passionate musical that is sure to touch your heart and I loved it.

Book tickets to The Last Ship at New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 21st April here:

This isn’t a sponsored post. Julie was invited to see The Last Ship by New Alexandra Theatre for #BrumHour.

Julie blogs as RedandGoldWeb here: