"Message in a Bottle" - Featuring the Music of Sting - Emerson Colonial Theatre (Boston, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA. through March 30, 2024. Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“One day we'll dance on their graves, one day we'll sign our freedom, one day we'll laugh in our joy, and we'll dance." 

    - ("They Dance Alone') / Gordon Matthew Sumner, Ramon Roberto De Ciria    

The Emerson Colonial Theatre


Presents the Music of 





Choreographed and Directed by Kate Prince

Music and Lyrics by Sting

Music Supervisor and New Arrangements Alex Lacamoire

Music Producer and Arranger Martin Terefe

Dancers Include: Oliver Andrews, Lindon Barr (Dance Captain), Deavion Brown, David Cottle, Harrison Dowzell, Nestor Garcia Gonzalez, Natasha Gooden, Lizzie Gough (Resident Director), Anna Holmstrom, Megan Ingram, Ajani Johnson-Goffe, Charlotte Lee, Daniella May, Dylan Mayoral, Lukas McFarlane (Associate Choreographer), Robbie Ordona, Lara Renaud, Hannah Sandilands (Dance Captain), Jessey Stol, Steven Thompson, Gavin Vincent, Malachi Welch, Serena McCall, and Nethra Menon.

Vocalists Include: Sting, Beverley Knight, Lynval Golding, Claudia Georgette, Shaneeka Simon, Christella Litras

Additional Creative Team:

Music Co-Producer and Mixer - Oskar Winberg; Set Designer - Ben Stones; Video Designer - Andrzej Goulding; Costume Designer - Anna Fleischle; Lighting Designer - Natasha Chivers; Sound Designer - David McEwan; Dramaturg - Lolita Chakrabarti OBE; Associate Choreographer - Lukas McFarlane; Music Associate and Additional Arrangements - D.J. Wade; Assistant Choreographers - Tommy Franzen, Lizzie Gough; Resident Director/Choreographer - Lizzie Gough; Dance Captains - Lindon Barr, Hannah Sandilands; Wardrobe Supervisor - Miwa Mitsuhashi, Sabia Smith; Hair Stylist - Tevae Humphreys, Bethan Owens


March 26, 2024 through March 30, 2024

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 

EMERSON COLONIAL THEATRE, 106 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116


Tickets start at $49 and are available online at emersoncolonialtheatre.com or by calling # 888-616-0272 

Box Office Hours: Monday-Friday: 9am - 8pm (EST); Saturday-Sunday: 10am - 8pm (EST) 

THE EMERSON COLONIAL THEATRE Box Office is located at 106 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

THE EMERSON COLONIAL THEATRE website is the official source for tickets:



Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

If you plan on attending "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" expecting a Police/Sting jukebox musical, you will be sorely disappointed…for about three minutes.

Then, for the remainder of the show, you will be witness to one of the most prolific and extraordinary dance shows to hit the stage in a long time. 

Before we dive into this marvelous production, I first need to slip into my “Sophia Petrillo mode” for a moment. 

Picture it: Foxboro, Massachusetts. 1983

A young college student home during a hot summer works security at the first ever summer concert series held at then-“Sullivan Stadium.”   

On the bill for that concert were three bands: “A Flock of Seagulls,” “The Fixx” and the hottest band on the planet at the time, “The Police.” 

The Police were riding the wave of their fifth, final and phenomenally successful album “Synchronicity” featuring their biggest selling single “Every Breath You Take.” 

That one song would be played so much on radio stations around the globe it would become implanted onto the DNA strand of radio listeners everywhere. 

Even if you were NOT a listener of Top 40 radio, there was no escape from hearing that bloody "earworm" of a song. 

It wasn't even one of their better written (or better performed) tunes but there was no denying its major pop music, cultural graffiti imprint at the time.

“Synchronicity” has frequently been listed as one of the most iconic albums of all time, and for good reasons.

(Photo: "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA. through March 30, 2024. Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen)

As great as their songs were, anyone who was a fan of The Police might recall how some of their early music videos today look almost prehistoric - as if they had a production budget of eight or nine bucks ("De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" or "Roxanne" as examples).

They were not well made and many of them were strictly of the band playing with little or no story to them. 

Yet, at Sullivan Stadium, as this young guard listens to the songs by The Police in concert, he begins to notice how each song starts to trigger various images - and then stories begin to evolve, as if each tune is creating its own “music video” in his mind. 

That is still true of extraordinary musical legacy left by The Police to this day.

Now let's jump back to present-day 2024

As audiences watch "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" they will notice they are NOT watching live music videos of that aforementioned musical legacy as performed by dancers on stage. 

Instead, they are presented with multiple music videos, interconnected as part of a larger story, an overwhelmingly compelling saga of one family facing unmercifully traumatic odyssey. 

(Photo: "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA. through March 30, 2024. Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen)

As the music begins to play, dancers emerge and, for the first three minutes, you might be questioning what the hell kind of show you have agreed to see. 

You might be wondering how the music by The Police or solo songs by Gordon Matthew Sumner (aka “Sting”) fit into the overall story, outside of the title, taken from one of their biggest hits, "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE." 

Then, by minute four, those concerns are eviscerated as you have now become so totally mesmerized by the incredible story unfolding that it is clear that the music by Mr. Sumner et al is a vital ingredient of "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE," but not the focus. 

As the show’s synopsis describes: we see the peaceful village of Bebko, which is alive with joyous celebrations. 

A mother and father of three siblings - two boys and one girl, Leto, Mati and Tana - watch as their children grow to become adults. 

One of their sons falls in love and marries a local girl. Times seem joyous for all. 

Suddenly, Bebko falls under attack, and everything changes forever. 

The family is forced to leave and embark on a perilous journey together in order to survive. 

Family members are lost and Leto, Mati and Tana are separated from one another, becoming imprisoned. 

(Photo: "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA. through March 30, 2024. Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen)

"MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" follows the trio as they journey to reunite somehow, somewhere, some way. 

The architecture of the choreography surrounding each member of this family is exquisite, particularly in the show's second act when the focus shifts to the individual respective journeys taken by Leto, Mati and Tana.

What they discover about themselves during that journey appears as surprising to them as it feels to us.

In addition to many familiar favorites such as “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” “Fields of Gold,” “King of Pain,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “Invisible Sun” (and yes - even “Every Breath You Take”), lesser iconic fare such as “Love is the Seventh Wave,” “Be Still My Beating Heart” and “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” are no less impactful to the overall story. 

The above songs are also not simply played recordings by the original artists. 

There has been some marvelous re-invention taken here to make the "mood" of each song perfectly symbiotic with the dance being performed. 

(Photo: "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA. through March 30, 2024. Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen)

The myriad of dance styles merged into the predominantly contemporary approach by director choreographer Kate Prince is astounding and, in execution, these dancers are simply miraculous to behold. 

There is no random movement here - down to every last pinky toe or fingertip, every dancer is completely in sync, totally in alignment with one another and for what is supposed to be happening on stage. A simply flawless execution.

The technical elements associated with "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" are equally captivating from start to finish - from superb costuming to specialized lighting and sound effects.

There are so many stories of peaceful cultures who have met with violent oppression, the subjugation of families, with entire communities devastated and destroyed in the process. 

"MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" does not offer us any solutions certain to prevent such adversities from happening in the future. 

However, "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" does show us, in magnificent fashion, the kind of courage that is required in the face of such adversity.

As Gordon Matthew Sumner once penned, "Love can mend your life or love can break your heart." 

"MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" continues at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston until March 30th.

Approximately two hours with one intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




Choreographed and Directed by Kate Prince, "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" features newly recorded and reworked versions of Sting’s evocative rock songs. 

Extraordinary contemporary dancing propels a story about a family, split by war and forced to forge new lives in foreign lands.

The story of a family torn apart by war and forced to make their ways in unfamiliar lands is told through Kate Prince’s striking, bold choreography in "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE," a dance/theater production inspired and driven by the music of 17-time Grammy Award-winning rock icon Sting.

In its 2020 world premiere at Sadler’s Wells’ Peacock Theater in London’s West End, "MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" became a critical hit for its distinctive mix of gravity-defying, lyrical hip hop dance and its use of evocative rock songs that together underscore a moving story of humanity and hope.

"MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE" opens in a village alive with joyous celebrations that suddenly comes under siege. In the ensuing chaos, three siblings – Leto, Mati and Tana – are separated from their parents. 

Each sibling undertakes a perilous journey to new lands – fighting off captors and predators, surviving imprisonment, falling in love and finding their way back to more peaceful lives. 

Nearly two dozen songs – written by Sting and made famous through his solo career and his band The Police – appear in the show. 

Chart-topping hits and fan favorite tracks propel the narrative, often in surprising ways. “Every Breath You Take,” “Roxanne,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Walking On The Moon,” “Englishman In New York” and “Fields Of Gold” are among the songs with new vocals by Sting and new arrangements by Grammy and Tony Award winner Alex Lacamoire (“Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen, “The Greatest Showman”). 

Guest vocals include actress and singer Beverley Knight MBE and Lynval Golding (of The Specials). 

Kate Prince’s choreography incorporates a wide range of influences for the production’s 22 dancers, from breakdance, hip hop and contemporary street dance, to jazz dance and gestural movement – with a hint of balletic partnering. 

Prince says the thrill of watching audiences react to the music they know and the unfolding story told through her muscular, athletic and non-stop choreography brings her great joy. “I love watching audiences watch 'MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE',” she says. “They have this double reaction of loving the music and loving Sting’s work, and realizing how much of the music they do know and how much it's been in their lives. Then, watching the audience watching those dancers, you get the sense of ‘how are they doing that?’ and ‘how are they still going?’”

Tickets are available online at emersoncolonialtheatre.com or by calling # 888-616-0272. 



In its storied history, THE EMERSON COLONIAL THEATRE has debuted such seminal Broadway shows as Anything GoesPorgy and BessOklahoma!Born YesterdayFolliesA Little Night MusicGrand Hotel and La Cage aux Folles, among others. Reviving a great theatrical tradition, Boston’s newly restored EMERSON COLONIAL THEATRE officially re-opened its doors in July 2018 with the pre-Broadway World Premiere of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. THE EMERSON COLONIAL THEATREwhich opened in 1900 with a production of Ben-Hur, is the oldest continuously operated theater in Boston; as well as being amongst the most magnificent, having retained most of its original period details. A theatre for the community, EMERSON COLONIAL THEATRE will once again contribute to the rich cultural landscape of Boston, with a new and varied program of Broadway shows, live music, comedy and events.


106 Boylston Street

Boston, MA 02116