Sting is headed to Chicago for a benefit event at Steppenwolf Theatre on Feb. 24.
Steppenwolf Theatre is preparing to be Stinged.
The company has announced that on Feb. 24 it will host a benefit evening for its Artistic Development Fund that will feature Sting, the megastar, 16-time Grammy Award-winning musician, in conversation with actor-musician Jimmy Nail. The two men also will perform songs from Sting’s new musical, “The Last Ship,” which is set to sail into Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre for its pre-Broadway debut, June 10-July 13, with a Broadway opening in the fall of 2014. Accompanying Sting and Nail (who is a featured performer in “The Last Ship”), will be Emmy Award-nominee Rob Mathes on piano. (Sting also will perform in a joint concert with Paul Simon at the United Center on the following night.)
The money raised at the Steppenwolf event are for the theater’s special fund that was created to provide enhanced resources for large-scale productions initiated by its artists, as well as for the mounting of new plays. A limited number of tickets ($250) will go on sale to the public on Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. Call (312) 335-1650 or go to the box office at 1650 N. Halsted.
“The Last Ship,” with music and lyrics by Sting, and a book by Tony Award-winner John Logan (“Red”) and Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner Brian Yorkey (“Next to Normal”), is a quasi-autobiographical work set against the demise of the local shipbuilding industry in a seaside town in the northeast of England — a town where both Sting and Nail grew up. It tells of a group of unemployed shipyard workers inspired to take back their shipyard and to build one last vessel — not for their former employer or the government, but for their own pride and humanity. The show will be directed by Joe Mantello (“Wicked!”).
So, how did Steppenwolf nab Sting? According to artistic director Martha Lavey, Mantello, who has worked with many of the company’s ensemble members, was in Chicago workshopping a new play the theater had commissioned. When she learned he also would be directing “The Last Ship,” she asked him if he might talk to Sting about doing a benefit for Steppenwolf, particularly since he had done one for the Public Theatre in New York.
Sting’s latest album, entitled “The Last Ship,” is inspired by the story of his forthcoming musical of the same name and draws upon his memories of the shipbuilding community of Wallsend. On Feb. 21, “Sting: The Last Ship” will debut on Great Performances on PBS, with the musician (who will NOT appear in the Broadway musical) performing songs from both the album and musical. For more information about the musical, visit thelastshipbroadway.com.
The Steppenwolf benefit event begins at 7:30 p.m. on the theater’s mainstage. For more information visit www.steppenwolf.org.