THE LAST SHIP at the Neil Simon Theatre
(Seen November 27, 2014)
This is a charismatic tale about a Northern England ship-building town facing problems with the loss of its' singular industry. It is also a love story about a young man who leaves this home to find a better life for himself on the sea --- leaving behind his young lover, to whom he promises to return. These two characters, however, are lost in the larger story, and fade into the background, leaving us without a focus other than the ship.
The societal aspects it is framed against are reminiscent of BILLY ELLIOT, but its' characters are less appealing, and it doesn't have a happy ending.
Unfortunately, Sting's score has more tempo than melody. The beat is there but the music feels lacking in texture. And the book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey is repetitive and doesn't involve and capture the audience.
The ensemble cast is first-rate, even they are burdened with stereotypical characters, along with a unbelievable (even if based on truth) story of a town that defies the authorities to build and launch one last ship.
The show has gusto and bravado, but lacks soul.