Where once Broadway stages were populated by a breed of actor that focused on work in the theater, you can now find some of the biggest names from television, Hollywood and music on marquees all over Midtown Manhattan. Indeed, trying to get a ticket to a show with a celebrity involved will cost theatergoers big bucks. The last time we checked for tickets to see Hugh Jackman in “The River,” there was nothing for less than about $280.
Hoping to turn around the fortunes of his flailing show “The Last Ship,” Sting will headline the production for five weeks starting December 9. Sting wrote the music to the show, which is about a young man who leaves his English shipping community only to return 15 years later to find that the shipyard is at risk and his childhood love is engaged to another man.
To announce the special engagement, Sting appeared on the Today show this morning. And The New York Times ran a story yesterday. So the show sees the opportunity and is looking to make the most of it.
*Update after the jump.
“Whether his celebrity will be enough to right ‘The Last Ship’ is an open question that will now transfix the New York theaterati for weeks,” the Times wrote. Sting says he’s been to all of the rehearsals, so he’s not just swooping in to save the day. But he also acknowledged that the show is a “challenge” for ticket buyers because it’s not based on a movie or other popular entertainment.
There’s no doubt that there will be a rise in ticket sales for that time, even though Sting won’t be performing any of his more popular tunes. The question is whether that will be sustained.
For the week ending November 23, the show grossed $497,208 across eight performances, reports Playbill. The average ticket price was $68.85, and it played to 66.9 percent audience capacity. Some of the highest grossing shows on Broadway are grossing well over $1 million. And “The River” played at 101 percent capacity. The Times says the show has lost $75,000 each week since it opened September 29.
Sting has been on Broadway before, and this story is based a bit on his own life. Everyone involved has to know there’s a lot riding on Sting’s appearance. With so many shows to choose from and ticket prices so pricey, every show has to do all it can to fill every seat.
*Update: Even with Sting’s star power, it’s been announced that “The Last Ship” will close on January 24. According to The Hollywood Reporter, last week is normally one of the biggest week’s in theater going, but the musical was only able to fill its theater to 83 percent capacity. Before Sting joined the cast, it was losing $75,000 each week; the show cost $15 million to produce and $625,000 per week to stage.