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posted: 6/6/2014 5:30 AM

Sting gives Wayne native big break on 'Last Ship'

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  • Wayne native Martha McDonnell plays in the orchestra for the pre-Broadway world premiere of "The Last Ship" at the Bank of America Theatre.

      Wayne native Martha McDonnell plays in the orchestra for the pre-Broadway world premiere of "The Last Ship" at the Bank of America Theatre.

  • Wayne native Martha McDonnell plays in the orchestra for the pre-Broadway world premiere of "The Last Ship" at the Bank of America Theatre.

      Wayne native Martha McDonnell plays in the orchestra for the pre-Broadway world premiere of "The Last Ship" at the Bank of America Theatre.

 
 

Wayne native Martha McDonnell will miss her college graduation ceremonies later this month from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. The reason? Sting hired her to play violin in the Chicago orchestra for his Broadway-bound musical "The Last Ship."

"It was very surreal," said McDonnell, who auditioned for the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter himself at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre. "I just sat down to start playing and then Sting walked in."

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But instead of just sitting back and sizing up McDonnell's fiddle-playing, Sting pulled out his guitar and joined in with the musicians in an impromptu jam session.

"Because the music is new and the orchestrations hadn't been figured out yet, I sort of wrote a part," McDonnell said, noting that she was more excited than nervous. "And then they asked me to play a few of my own fiddle tunes as well."

It was precisely a moment like this that McDonnell -- a 22-year-old alum of St. Francis Preparatory High School in Wheaton -- had prepared for as a musician. Not only has McDonnell trained in classical violin, but she's also adept in Scottish and bluegrass fiddle-playing as well.

Though McDonnell won't be traveling with "The Last Ship" to Broadway, the show is a remarkable resume builder as her first professional music job. She's in the process of joining the Chicago Federation of Musicians Local union.

"I'm excited for the opportunities that will come afterward, whether it's performing or whether it's going into the music business side of things," McDonnell said. "I would really love to, in these years right after graduation, perform around the country or around the world and see where that leads me. My passion is performing."

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