Story: Bruce Joel Rubin
Music and lyrics: Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart
Director: Matthew Warchus
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
Ghost The Musical, on at Milton Keynes this week, is the stage adaptation from a film, among a proliferation around at the moment. It is based on the much-loved 1990 Jerry Zucker classic which most people will probably have seen, although it is considered by some to be a ‘chick flick’. The musical stays pretty close to the Oscar-winning movie which tells the heart-wrenching tale of Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen whose special love is torn about by the murder of the former by a young Puerto Rican in a dark alley in the Big Apple. The crime seems at first motivated by drugs or perhaps even a random attack but as the story unfolds our ghost lover, with the help of a medium called Oda Mae Brown, is able to unearth the dastardly story behind his untimely death. In so doing Sam can thus to demonstrate to Molly the depth of his love as well as the double-dealings of his so-called friend and colleague.
Sam Wheat is played with much passion by Stewart Clarke (surely the only banker ever to draw tears from any of us!). Clarke has a powerful voice, which is only occasionally masked by the orchestra. Sam is killed by a Puerto Rican hood, Willie Lopez, whose rôle is taken on by Ivan de Freitas. He does to a tee the filthy, dastardly and hapless Willie the waster who is working to the orders of Sam’s duplicitous work colleague, Carl Bruner. David Roberts as the latter, is very believable and does not overplay the rôle. He has a charming singing voice. Some have said that this production is “style over substance” but the movie tale was pretty simple and while Rebecca Trehearn as Molly makes her rôle a tad understated at times in contrast to Clarke’s occasional stomping around their chemistry and rapport are none the less very convincing. Their harmonies in the duets are lovely and they both sing their little hearts out. Some poignant moments, especially that ‘ditto’one! where one could hear the proverbial pin drop and even feel the spinal shivers. But it is the talented Wendy Mae Brown as Oda Mae who adds that extra pizazz and humour to the piece, as Whoopi did in the film. She is tres amusant and has a great voice. Her sidekicks are fun too! Stevie Hutchinson’s somewhat territorial ghost is brilliant. The ensemble are allowed to show off their excellent dancing with clever choreography from Ashley Wallen which works well with the lighting and the technology. While mentioning latter, the set techno-wizardry of Rob Howell and Paul Kieve are nothing short of amazing. Without wishing to leave many spoilers here, there are moments of sheer brilliance in the way film footage is used, the set movement works and trickery involving ghostly transformations. Enough said, but there were gasps from the audience.
Ghost is a timeless fantasy about the power of love and this show is a spectacle to behold in every sense. Not to be missed (It is worth it for the illusions alone!) You will be transported………
Runs until Sat 21 Sep 2013
Picture: Sean Ebsworth Barnes