UPDATE 7:44 p.m. with more details throughout.
In the wake of middling reviews and a dozy box office, Sting has agreed to join the cast of his first Broadway musical as composer/lyricist. From December 9 through January 10 — which is to say, for most of the holiday season, when tourists swarm Times Square in search of a Broadway show — the pop star will replace Jimmy Nail, who plays the foreman of a shipyard on the verge of extinction in the musical, a roman a clef referencing Sting’s own youth in Northern England.
The show, capitalized at $15 million, has lost money since opening on September 29 — sometimes as much as $150,000 per week. Its tryout in Chicago over the summer drew ecstatic reviews that were not matched by the New York critics. The Last Ship has been further hampered by the fact that it’s a downbeat story and not the usual fare for the Broadway crowd, which tends to demand glitter and cheer for its hundreds of dollars per ticket.
Sting and lead producer Jeffrey Seller are planning to officially announce his intervention Monday morning on the Today show. An advance story was given to the New York Times. Despite his international reputation with The Police and as a solo singer/songwriter/instrumentalist, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner does not guarantee a popular run on the box office: His last appearance, as Mack the Knife in a 1989 revival of The Threepenny Opera, flopped. What happens after January 10 is anyone’s guess. On January 30, Sting will return to his world tour with Paul Simon — who also knows a thing or two about the perils of switching from singer/songwriter to Broadway score creator.