Book: Bruce Joel Rubin
Music: Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard
Director: Matthew Warchus
Reviewer: Seb Farrell
Musicals based on movies are not, in this reviewer’s experience, something to get overly excited about. The whole premise of producing a piece of theatre simply because people will have heard and enjoyed the same thing delivered differently on the silver screen will always give it that slight feel of tawdriness and sluggishness. Ghost – The Musical falls straight into that category.
That’s not to say a lot of money hasn’t been lavished on the production as that is clearly evident, but it could have been spent a little more constructively almost anywhere except the lights perhaps? Ghost the musical has more of a filmic quality than stage musical about it and it’s not just that Bruce Joel Rubin’s book sticks closely to his own movie script but also that the stars of Matthew Warchus’ production are Rob Howell’s sets and Jon Driscoll’s video designs, which are ever present and often a little distracting.
Sam Wheat is a banker killed in front of his girlfriend and spending the majority of him time in ghost like form tracking his killer while keeping his girlfriend Molly safe and expressing his love to her in ways he found almost impossible to do while alive in her company.
The performances are disappointingly weak throughout, Stewart Clarke as Sam Wheat spends almost every second doing a terrible stage shout and falling to his knees to show us his desperation and longing for his (equally unimpressive) partner Rebecca Trehearn as the unnecessarily grumpy Molly Jensen. There’s very little chemistry between the two and both seem to have been cast on their singing talents above all else, it feels as if it’s all production and no product – In one scene it appeared that Molly was singing to a fridge as only she and it were lit up at the same time.
The saving grace is Wendy Mae Brown playing Oda Mae Brown who gets the first positive reaction from the audience some forty minutes in and drags everyone else along kicking and screaming (quite literally) adding much needed laughs and the missing heart to the proceedings. The ensemble is largely superfluous entering with robotic dances during scene changes in a Pan’s People fashion to keep us entertained while more lights are moved and scenery flown out.
The music is largely forgettable, with the exception of the timeless classic Unchained Melody there’s not one song which stands out and begs the question, why make this a musical at all?The story is one of love and death, themes of which you could easily have made a great musical with or at the very least a moving and thought provoking play. The effects are bright and loud but mostly underused until the fairly moving ending where Sam leaves Molly… finally!
But generally it’s a good rule of thumb to let the effects add and embellish a production not dominate it, the love and passion were upstaged by the physical production elements. To add insult to injury, a microphone was left on during Act 2, while turning on microphones for other actors seemed a little hard.
Ghost the Musical would be made much better by simplifying it, the best effects are the most simple and ultimately the story should come before all.
Photo: Sean Ebsworth-Barnes |Runs until Sat 22nd February 2014