Interview with The Last Ship star Richard Fleeshman

Have you heard Sting’s musical The Last Ship is coming to York Theatre Royal? It’s kind of a huge deal! Musical superhero Richard Fleeshman is starring in the show, and I was lucky enough to ask him a few questions about the role…

Tell us a little bit about your role in The Last Ship and what appealed to you about playing the part?
I play a part called Gideon who is, in Sting’s own words, a bit of an avatar for Sting himself – a young guy who wanted to escape the path that was set out before him. It was expected of him to go into the shipyards, which is something he didn’t want to do. Obviously, unlike Sting, Gideon doesn’t go on to become an international superstar but he does flee to join the navy and we start the show 17 years later when he arrives back to his home town which is in decline. The thing that appealed to me really more than anything, before even reading the script, was just getting the chance to work with one of my musical heroes Sting and it is very fortunate that I get to do it now. That was the thing which attracted me to The Last Ship.

“As long as I’m enjoying it and feel challenged and I feel it’s the right thing to do, then more often than not I am open to listening to different things.”

Do you have any pre-show rituals that help you prepare?
Not really. I generally try to steer clear of them because what happens is they creep in as the show goes on. So on the first show you might have none, but by the third week if you’ve gone to the loo or brushed your teeth in a certain bit, then the next day inevitably you do it again and it starts to build up and becomes a little ritual.

You were great as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls – do you have any dream roles you’d always want to take on?
I don’t really have any dream roles or anything like that because my career so far has been really varied and generally the things that I’ve done and have loved doing most have been the things that have been on the periphery. They have completely blindsided me and I never had any idea I was going to do them in the first place. I just keep the landscape as open as possible and be open to all the different possibilities and opportunities. As long as I’m enjoying it and feel challenged and I feel it’s the right thing to do, then more often than not I am open to listening to different things.

You have appeared on TV before, but you have such a tremendous talent for singing. Do you prefer roles where singing is involved or will we be seeing you on our screens again soon?
I do obviously love singing within work but I very recently had a heart-to-heart with my agent about the eight shows a week singing thing. When you are singing in a musical you are not necessarily singing the way you would sing or the songs you would choose to sing if, for instance, I’m writing my own stuff or gigging. That’s why, being a huge Sting fan, The Last Ship was such a blessing. To sing his songs every night is a pleasure. But I did want to step away from musicals for a little while. I was doing a TV show last year in America and I absolutely loved it. I was determined to go and do some more straight work for a while but then when an opportunity like The Last Ship came along I wasn’t willing to turn that down. So I had to do a very quick U-turn in a conversation with my agent saying I didn’t want to do musicals for a little while. I rang her back and said ‘ok I will’.

Don’t miss your chance to see Richard take to the stage at York Theatre Royal from 25th – 30th June.

Photography credited to Pamela Raith

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