Who would have ever thought of turning the Acadamy Award-winning film GHOST into a full blown musical? Fortunately, the original writer BRUCE JOEL RUBIN jumped onboard and was able to deliver an incredible modern-day adaptation of this beloved film.
GHOST – THE MUSICAL has taken the core of this classic and turned it up a notch with dazzling special effects and illusions leaving the audience in awe while adding impressive dance numbers and new powerful songs that build upon this already heartfelt story.
This Broadway and West End production includes the direction by Tony Award-winner MATTHEW WARCHUS (Matilda, Boeing-Boeing) and choreography by ASHLEY WALLEN. Original music and lyrics was created by a team of Grammy Award-winners, including DAVE STEWART (Eurythmics) and GLEN BALLARD (Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”. Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill”). Not to mention, the ever unforgettable “Unchained Melody” performed by THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS from the film, has made it on to the production in an all-new way!
The musical is set in modern day New York City yet remains a timeless fantasy tale about the power of love. The production makes this overly apparent with the overuse of some selfies the stars take onstage, but I digress. Walking back to their apartment one night after a romantic dinner and a show, Sam and Molly are mugged, leaving Sam dead on a dark street. Sam is trapped a ghost between this world and the next and unable to leave Molly, who he learns is in danger. With the help of a phony storefront psychic, Sam tries to communicate with Molly in the hopes of saving her life.
You may actually be unfamiliar with this relatively new musical. The musical has actually been seen by more than a million people worldwide starting with an original production from Britain and made its way to Broadway shortly thereafter.
The audience can be quickly thrown off by the new direction of Molly. That early 90’s look from DEMI MOORE may not have worked as well for the stage. Replacing the short brunette boyish haircut is a young curly haired blonde. By no means is this a complaint or something that really affected the show, but definitely duly noted.
Molly Jensen is played by the wonderfully cute KATIE POSTOTNIK (Rock of Ages) with her counterpart Sam Wheat being played by the talented STEVEN GRANT DOUGLAS (Rent, Aida, Avenue Q). The two really are the rock of the show with only a couple of supporting characters. Luckily these two are very strong and really carry the show along with who other than Oda Mae Brown, the psychic con-artist that has more talent than she realized, played by the hilarious CARLA R. STEWART (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Grease, Rent). The sleazy untrustworthy friend Carl is played a ROBBY HALTIWANGER whom was also in Rent. Both male leads played Roger once upon a time and I could totally see it, but their voices lend well in this show.
Molly was as adorable as ever and the character really gets to shine with some impressive ballads including “With You” and “Nothing Stops Another Day”. POSTOTNIK gets to some big solo attention and really captivates the crowd with some emotional songs. Sam as well has some strong solos with DOUGLAS really shining in the second act. However, it is their duet “Three Little Words” that helped get this musical going toward the beginning where they play over each other. It is more of song that helps progress the story rather than many of them that builds on the emotion.
In every musical though, there is always that one person that truly shines and helps the show to the next level. In GHOST it is no doubt CARLA R. STEWART as Oda Mae Brown. She’s outrageously funny with perfect timing and just the right amount of over-the-top laughs. She got more applause than anyone else out there. She also has some fantastic songs diving into that gospel sound that would have lent well to Whoopi Goldberg.
The film was highly reliant on many special effects, which created some challenges to creating a stage production of it. PAUL KIEVE has created effects for over 100 international productions. A top notch illusionist would be warranted for such an effect heavy show. This production pulls all the stops with incredible realistic effects including Sam walking through a door, inanimate objects floating around the stage, characters flying away and people disappearing and reappearing right before your eyes.
The difficulty of pulling off some of these effects includes some rather dark scenes and bright lights shining right at the audience in order to adjust their eyes so they can’t see as well. This is definitely something can cause some discomfort at points; it’s needed, but ye be warned.
With so many different large scenes needed, a great deal of the backdrops and effects use projections and screens. I am one that quickly gets frustrated when these are used often, especially with over use of scrims. However, it is done tastefully and it works perfectly for this show. Without them, I don’t know how they could have done this adaptation. You’ll be amazed at how fluid and impressive many of these effects are throughout the show.
Of course, special effects should be in support of the subject matter in which in this case they definitely are. Thankfully, this musical offers so much more. The musical numbers are big and welcomed except for a couple that are pretty out there. There is a solid musical consistency throughout, but there are a few songs mixed in between that made me question the necessity of some songs.
The second act remains strong with a great tempo even with the longer than usual running time. I felt for the characters, and I found myself quite emotional. It’s exactly what one should be looking for in an adaptation of GHOST. There are many memorable songs and moments in this show and I know I will be thinking about this one for a while.
GHOST – THE MUSICAL follows the film pretty closely with only small differences that doesn’t change the plot or characters in anyway, something that is difficult to accomplish in movie to stage adaptations. Fans of the film shouldn’t be disappointed. If anything, audiences should enjoy this new life that has been given to this classic. It’s a story that plays well to everyone that most can find relatable. I don’t mean with ghost encounters, but with the loss of a love one and not getting that last goodbye. It’s that important rule of life that I find is something that I cannot be reminded of enough; live in the now.
GHOST – THE MUSICAL is now playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts – Segerstrom Hall
It is recommended for ages 13+ for mild violence, mature themes and dialogue.
July 29th – August 10th, 2014
Tuesday – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
The 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, August 2nd will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation.
Tickets start at $25
For more information visit scfta.org