”It’s a Real Sort of Rousing Call”- Richard Fleeshman on Sting’s The Last Ship
| 29th June 2018
The musical, which previously was on Broadway, is deeply connected to Sting’s own personal life and is even set in Newcastle’s Wallsend where he grew up.
The play follows a fictitious story based on the real Swan Hunters yard.
We follow two parallel stories of Gideon Fletcher (Richard Fleeshman– Coronation Street, Ghost the Musical) who is returning from the Navy after many years away and Jackie White’s (Joe McGann– Upper Hand, Calendar Girls) fight to save the shipyard.
The Play features a TONY-nominated original score and songs all of which have been written by Sting himself.
VIVA managed to catch up Richard Fleeshman and asked what he thinks of the show political message and his own character Gideon.
How’s working with Sting?
It’s great. I’ve been a huge fan for years and years so I was incredibly nervous at the audition because you have to sing Sting’s songs to Sting.
Yeah, it’s just amazing as you can imagine working with anyone you admire its a real treat but for them to be as humble, gracious and remarkable as he is it’s huge.
We’ve been on crowded trains where we can’t get seats and he’s like meh whatever he’s so chilled out. It’s amazing you forget he’s a global superstar.
What do you love about the character you’re playing?
He has a lot of faults which I think is always quite good when you have a character because you need to empathise with them.
On the face of it, he’s not really been great. He promises this girl he’d come back, he left, his dad died and he didn’t come back there’s a lot not to like about him.
You have to still try and make him do the right things for the right reasons which is a great journey to go on. That’s why I like him
The show has changed a lot from being on Broadway, is it still a work in progress?
It’s a working progress in the sense that every venue we go to is different like Northern stage has one of the biggest stages in Europe never mind the UK, so that’s always a huge huge change for us.
It changes everything. It changes from our interactions as characters to the band which was on stage with us and is now in the pit. Every venue we go to will be different.
However in terms of the product, unless Lorne Campbell the director decided that tomorrow something has to happen then that’s the show they’re going to see.
How is working with the projection used in the show?
First of all, it’s amazing and 59 productions (the designer) is renowned for being incredible but as an actor who’s never seen the show, I have no idea what it looks like.
I just have to take peoples word for it, that it looks as good as people say it is.
We saw one video of the end of the show, which is incredible, on a mobile phone and that is literally the extent of what I’ve been able. Although I did see some parts in tech where I ran out and watched a few bits I wasn’t in.
You sound a lot like Sting, do you think that’s intentional or him rubbing off on you?
Thank you and I think it’s a double whammy.
My girlfriend bought me tickets to see sting before I knew this was going to happen, that’s how much of a fan I was of his music. I’ve grown up listening to him my whole life so that has influenced me.
Also, I play the most Sting type character in the show singing songs written by him in a Gordie accent so it just leans that way.
On top of that, the first time I ever heard Sting sing these songs I’d never really listened to the show so I took it as that’s how he intends it to sound. All that bounded together created it I think.
How were the accents to learn for the show?
I mean Geordie is renowned for being a bit of a scary one, just because it’s very on the front foot. Your either Geordie or your not.
We had a great dialect coach and a lot of the cast are real-life Geordies, Charlie included, so if you immerse yourself in that for long enough you tend to slot in. Hopefully anyway.
What do you hope people will take away from the show?
Well, I think what has been the resounding thing is how its affected people.
It’s not just a normal trip to the theatre where they go ”oh that was nice”. People have been really moved, enough to write us letters and we’ve had standing ovations every show.
I think it knows what it is and it nails its colours to the mast and it’s a real sort of rousing call.
Why do you think that is, what is it about this particular show that seems to capture?
Well, it’s a story about people. People being oppressed and people reacting to that and I think now is a good a time as ever where that is so important.
It’s so important that people get together. We say at the end of the play but there’s power in what people do and power when people combine together to have their voices heard
For example, the small ray of hope in the craziness that is American gun law is the Parkland movement. I know they’re kids at the moment and Congress is ignoring them but one day they are going to be adults that can vote and that’s when we could see some real change.
So it’s a very very powerful message and it’s a pleasure to be apart of it.
What is the responsibility like giving that political message every night, since it is so relevant?
I don’t really see it like that. You would always try your best to give the most you can every show. The difference with this show is that its two-way traffic. You feed off what you get from the audience and it’s so powerful, especially in Newcastle.
In Newcastle, when it was so close to home, you were seeing just rows and rows of grown men in floods of tears and you can’t help but be moved by that.
So yeah I think that recharges you to think that what your doing is important.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming interviews with Joe McGann and Frances Mcnamee!
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