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By Randee Dawn

"The Last Ship" has always been Sting's Broadway baby. He steered the boat from concept to casting to execution — but until now, he's remained ashore. 

No more. As he announced on TODAY Monday, Sting is climbing aboard and taking the helm and ... all right, that's enough with the sailing references.

Exciting news no matter how you look at it, though. For five weeks starting Dec. 9, Sting will play the role of Jackie White, the foreman role currently occupied by Sting's BFF Jimmy Nail. "Big shoes to fit," noted Sting. "But he's passed me the baton for five weeks."

Sting considers hiring Al Roker to appear in 'The Last Ship'? Watch this video!

If you think the former Gordon Sumner is unprepared to take on such a part this late in the game, don't worry: He's watched every performance from the rear of the theater. "I do it every day," he said. "I'm right in the back, I'm like The Phantom of the Opera — I'm just sneaking there in the dark."

Plus, this won't be Sting's debut on the Broadway stage — he played Macheath in "Threepenny Opera" in 1989.

Admittedly, it's something of a publicity move for the show, a $15 million musical that's lost around $75,000 each week since it opened on Sept. 29, according to the New York Times

Check out Sting talking about 'The Last Ship' in the TODAY studio!

But it's a strategy that just may work; Sting remains a top concert draw and his millions of fans may feel that paying as much as $200 per ticket is worth it to see him in the limited run.

This wasn't part of the plan from the start, though: "I didn't think I would do this," he admitted. But, he added, "Having been to every performance, every rehearsal, I feel I've earned my place in the cast. I've done it."

Don't miss this terrific video of the cast of "The Last Ship" lip-syncing The Police's 1978 classic "Roxanne" from their dressing rooms (complete with a very special guest appearance from TODAY's Al Roker!).

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