Book and Lyrics: Bruce Joel Rubin
Music & Lyrics: Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard
Director: Bob Thomson
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
Of recent, Ghost the Musical has had been plagued by spectres. It’s (mis)casting of previous tours have led to a sour tang to the production. Adapted from the 1990 film Ghost starred Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze. It’s musical version follows an endless pool of film to stage adaptations. With previous casting errors addressed, can the touring Ghost the Musical redeem its past sins and move into the light?
Losing a loved one is a tremendously painful experience. When Molly (Rebekah Lowings) loses her partner Sam (Niall Sheehy) to an orchestrated mugging she pleads for Sam to return. Trapped between heaven and earth, Sam’s spirit finds Oda Mae (Jacqui Dubois) a fraudster psychic who happens to have one trick she didn’t expect, to actually hear the dead. Together they seek to protect Molly from Sam’s killer, hopefully reuniting the two, one last time.
What Lowings and Sheehy portray is love something that is complicated to get across onstage. This is largely down to Lowings, specifically her vocals which communicate emotions outside of the lyrics (which most will have forgotten). Sheehy’s performance is acceptable, nothing remarkable, but feels incredibly ‘safe’.
It lacks in passion tremendously though, which is no fault of our performers. In terms of romance, it has heaps – what it lacks is fire. You all know what I’m talking about, the infamous potter’s wheel moment. Those unfamiliar with the film have a vague reference to the scene. The audience anticipates the erotic tension they crave, but it’s an immense let down – begrudgingly performed due to expectation.
Returning to the role of Oda Mae is Jacqui Dubois, who we welcome back with open arms. Her first interactions with Sam have just enough subtlety in delivery that they work as a running joke. As the show expands, the bond between the two feels more genuine. Vocally Dubois matches her comedic delivery, reminding us why she returned to the role – she excels.
In unison is Mark Bailey’s set design with illusionist Richard Pinner, excluding a few shaky transitions. The city of New York unfolds around us, the cityscapes closing up in a claustrophobic way. It’s most impressive, yet still simple display is aboard a subway car. Here we are also treated to Lovonne Richards, a ghost trapped on the train. His presence is intimidating, in such a small role, he makes a tremendous impact.
Unchained Melody – as synonymous with the film as Dirty Dancing is with Time of my Life is of course present, however, the remainder of the score is bland, forgettable but does have an emotive composition and sound design by Dan Samson.
The term ‘crowd pleaser’ needs to be retired. That’s not what Ghost the Musical is. It hits a mark for its nostalgic audience, though they may pine for a scene or two missed from the film and certainly faults lie within the adapted narrative. Its sense of humour delivers the chuckles and its illusionary handling of hell is chilling. It has heart, but no passion. It has merit, but nothing outstanding. A run of the mill production which flips into creativity but dips into forgettability.
Runs until 2 March 2019 | Image: Contributed