Joe McGann will replace Jimmy Nail as Jackie White when Sting’s Broadway musical The Last Ship receives its UK premiere this spring. Further principal casting has also been announced today for the new production, which opens at Northern Stage on 12 March 2018 for four weeks ahead of a major UK and Ireland tour.
The Last Ship has a Tony-nominated original score and lyrics composed by Sting, is directed by Lorne Campbell, the artistic director of Northern Stage and designed by the Tony Award-winning 59 Productions, the team behind the video design for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Joe McGann is joined in the UK cast by Charlie Hardwick (Peggy White), Richard Fleeshman (Gideon Fletcher) and Frances McNamee (Meg Dawson).
When a sailor named Gideon Fletcher returns home after seventeen years at sea, tensions between past and future flare in both his family and his town. The local shipyard, around which the community has always revolved, is closing and no-one knows what will come next, only that a half-built ship towers over the terraces. With the engine fired and pistons in motion, picket lines are drawn as foreman Jackie White and his wife Peggy fight to hold their community together in the face of the gathering storm.
This personal, political and passionate new musical from multiple Grammy Award winner Sting, is an epic account of a family, a community and a great act of defiance. The Last Ship features an original score with music and lyrics by Sting as well as a few of his best-loved songs; Island of Souls, All This Time and When We Dance. It is the proud story of when the last ship sails.
The Last Ship, which was initially inspired by Sting’s 1991 album The Soul Cages and his own childhood experiences, tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the Swan Hunter shipyard.
Jimmy Nail, who was to reprise the role of Jackie White which he played on Broadway, will no longer be performing in the production. He said:
“I was very much looking forward to appearing in Sting’s The Last Ship, particularly here in my home city. Sadly, that’s not to be. I would like to thank the production in allowing FACT, the charity of which I’m a patron, to benefit from the planned gala charity event. To anyone who has purchased a ticket, please, go see the show and give this vessel the launch it so deserves. You’ll hear some of the finest musical works ever composed for the stage.”
Karl Sydow, producer of The Last Ship, said: “After protracted negotiations carried out in good faith, we regret to announce the production’s offer of employment to Jimmy Nail has been withdrawn. All at The Last Ship thank him for his generosity and enormous contribution during what has been an eight-year journey.”
Lorne Campbell, Northern Stage’s Artistic Director, said: “I am delighted to be welcoming Joe McGann, Charlie Hardwick, Richard Fleeshman, Frances McNamee and the rest of the company to Northern Stage for The Last Ship. Alongside some wonderful old friends of the company, we welcome some remarkable new performers from across the UK. We are all hugely excited to move into rehearsal and to bring this incredible score and epic story to audiences across the UK and Ireland.”
The Last Ship is produced by Northern Stage in association with Karl Sydow and Kathryn Schenker.
Joe McGann, perhaps best known for his lead role as Charlie Burrows in the comedy series The Upper Hand, has had a wide career spanning theatre, television and film. Theatre credits include Elf (Plymouth Theatre Royal/ Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin, Dominion Theatre, West End, and Lowry, Salford); The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (UK Tour); Calendar Girls (three UK tours), Olivier! (London Palladium), Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (UK Tour, 2008), Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls (ATG UK Tour, 2006).
Charlie Hardwick played Val Pollard from 2004 to 2015 and again in 2017 in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale. For this role, she won the 2006 British Soap Award for Best Comedy Performance. Stage credits include Hyem (Theatre 503/Northern Stage) and Double Lives (Live Theatre).
Richard Fleeshman is a familiar face on our stage and screens having been acting since the age of 12 when he played the role of Craig Harris in Coronation Street for four years. A talented singer-songwriter, Richard’s stage roles include Sam Wheat in Ghost the Musical, a part he originated and played in the West End on Broadway, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls (UK Tour) and Bobby Strong in Urinetown (original West End production).
Frances McNamee is currently appearing alongside Kelsey Grammer in Big Fish (The Other Palace). Other stage credits include The Mother (Tricycle), Love’s Labour’s Lost, Love’s Labour’s Won (RSC), Punishment Without Revenge (Arcola/Theatre Royal Bath/Belgrade Coventry), Pride and Prejudice (Regent’s Park), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Royal and Derngate), The Borrowers (Northern Stage), Epsom Downs (Salisbury Playhouse), The Phoenix of Madrid, The Surprise of Love (Theatre Royal Bath) and Les Misérables 20th Anniversary Gala Performance (West End). Her film credits include Love in Fifteen Minutes.