Interview: THE DAILY MAIL (1989)

November 01, 1989

The following article by Jack Tinkler appeared in a November 1989 issue of the The Daily Mail newspaper...

The Star who doesn't like the safe life.

The knives were out and sharpened before Sting had even opened his mouth for his Broadway debut.

This is a town where cynicism is a language as well as a way of life. How dare an English rock star - especially an English rock star from a defunct 80's band - trespass on their precious on their precious time, trying out a new, and possibly much-needed, career move?

"We knew what we were in for," said Sting ruefully. "However, I'm not the sort of person who likes pressing the same button and finding the same things coming out. I don't run my life on what critics say. I run my life on what I can learn. I had come here to learn this craft, the craft of acting as opposed to appearing on stage in big rock concerts. But I had to do it in full view of everybody. I've not been allowed to go into rep and I never went to drama school. So I had no alternative. I was famous before I decided to do it."

And why did he? After all, he is a multi-millionaire at 38. Why should such a man 'chance his arm' and his reputation when other rock stars are prepared to sit at home and issue another album when cash flow demands?

It is an innate distaste at the prospect of becoming just another mega-rich rock star posturing about on a stage at an age when others are preparing to sign on for a bus pass that drives him on. "There is something very undignified in that," he says, tactfully mentioning no names.

"I structure my life so that if I have two choices where one is sane and the right thing to do, I will invariably do the other. Call me a chancer it you like. One day I'm bound to come a cropper."

The second factor in his decision was the lady in his life, actress Trudie Styler.

"Trudie was very instrumental in it. She said: "'Before your 40 you should play 'Mack The Knife'. I normally take her word. She's very intuitive and in tune with what I need. So it was really down to Trudie. You only live once and if you're given an opportunity like this you take it and see if you can pull it off."

Actually I found his performance exactly my idea of what Frank Rich demanded. With his hair cut short, a seedily trimmed moustache sprouting across his top lip and an uncanny look of the young Olivier in the angular, scarred profile He is instantly recognisable as the sort of swaggering insinuating, upwardly mobile South London spiv who would sell his granny if he thought he could make a profit.

Exactly Brecht's vision of a Free Enterprise Society.

Not that he came to Broadway unprepared. He had already sung the role of Macheath in Hamburg - and in the original German - with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. As for acting experience, he points out that he has spent the last 12 years living with two actresses both former members of the RSC. "That's the equivalent of a drama school course I would say", he winks teasingly.

Sting refuses to allow any new challenge to pass him by. Close by the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, a gilded chocolate box of a place, a young homeless beggar had made his pitch. Typically, Sting got to know him and invited him to the show, its theme being that the poor cannot afford morals.

"I thought it would have something special to say to him," Sting explains. "So I offered him a ticket. He asked me to give him a week to find some clothes. Sure enough, he turned up looking quite good in a leather top and jeans. I gave him his ticket and afterwards he said he thought it was terrific but the trouble was that he couldn't earn living in his new clothes. No one would give him any money. Next time I saw him he was back in his old gear sleeping rough on his old pitch - very Brechtian."

Very Sting too.

© The Daily Mail


Oct 1, 1989

Sting sat in a dressing room at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, playing 'Yankee Doodle' on the jaw harp. "This is my New Sound," he said between twangs, italicizing the last two words with the studied pomposity of a progressive-rock deejay. "Very American, isn't it? Well, I'm a New Yorker now, so it's fitting." It was the week before the opening of the New York previews of "The Threepenny Opera," Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill's acerbic study of money and morals in Weimar Republic Berlin, and the Brooks Atkinson, shuttered since spring, had been engaged to provide temporary rehearsal quarters...

Sep 1, 1989

Sting and the President's Men: In his frock coat, wing collar and spats, he looks a bit of an Edwardian Jack the Lad - a handsome, smiling presence with blue-eyes steel underneath. Then, with a swish of his sword-stick, he is into his first song. This is Sting, the millionaire rock star known for his support of good causes, embarking on a new career possibly more dangerous than any exploit into the Brazilian rainforests...