Reviewed by Rosalie Carter
I won’t lie, I was a little sceptical at how effective a musical production of the 80s classic film Ghost would be. How would anyone ever recreate the tender aloofness of Patrick Swayze? The fizzle and pop of Whoopi Goldberg? Demi Moore’s pixie cut? I need not have worried; Ghost the Musical is an exciting re-imagining of the film with just enough of the movie to keep fans happy, while using astounding theatrics to make it fresh.
Rob Howell’s set, Jon Driscoll’s projections and Paul Keive’s illusions all intertwine to create a modern, bustling atmosphere on stage with seamless and speedy transitions, while Hugh Vanstone & Tim Lutkin’s lighting design beautifully differentiates the dead from the living.
Bathing the recently deceased Sam in a (and there really isn’t another word here) ghostly light, allows the audience to suspend their disbelief that this flesh and blood actor is really an other-worldy being. Paul Keive’s illusions are nothing short of Houdini standard and provoke gasps of disbelief from the audience. Mathew Warchus’ direction and Ashely Wallen’s choreography combine to create a physical theatre style scene in a train car that might be one of the most visually intricate moments I’ve seen in theatre, while the introduction of the ghosts is witty and silly in a way that only musical theatre can be.
The Wall Street Banker deeply in love, Stewart Clarke brings a sense of humour to Sam and we’re able to see why Molly wants to marry him. His pipes pack a punch with a gravely rawness that shows Sam’s anger at his recent demise, as well as a tenderness in his duets with Rebecca Trehearn as Molly. Oh, and as the majority of the female audience noticed, he’s also rather easy on the eyes.
As Molly, Rebecca Trehearn has some tender solo moments and David Roberts manages to add depth to the show’s villain Carl. But the bedazzled Wendy Mae Brown as Oda Mae Brown, manages to steal every scene she storms into. With vocals that slap you around the face, comic timing that has the audience in stitches, Brown is more than a rival to Whoopi and most importantly, makes the role her own.
The chorus certainly give it their all, but ironically the amazing set design can at times make them seem like an unnecessary addition to the show.
Completely crushing my apprehensions, Ghost is a brilliant new musical that will have musical theatre fans and movie buffs alike glowing afterwards. Although my eyes may have been dry at the end of the show, there were plenty of ladies around me reaching for the tissues at the finale.