Book: Bruce Joel Rubin
Music and Lyrics: Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard
Director: Matthew Warchus
Reviewer: Nicole Evans
GHOST the film first graced our screens in 1990 and was an instant hit with audiences worldwide. With a memorable cast, a firmly associated soundtrack and a devastating love story that tugs at even the hardiest of heartstrings the decision to turn GHOST into a musical was a brave one to make. GHOST The Musical tells the story of Sam and Molly. After being shot and killed, Sam becomes trapped between two worlds, unable to cross over yet unable to communicate with his beloved Molly. It soon becomes apparent that Sam’s seemingly random death was no accident and he sets out on a mission to communicate with the living, protect Molly and solve his own murder.
As the show starts and we realise what’s assumed to be a curtain about to rise is actually a transparent projection screen, it’s quickly clear that the special effects are aimed to blow us away. The set is made up of a series of screens which, with the help of some basic props and spectacularly creative projection, will later transform in to everything from a lift to a subway train. After soaring through the New York skyline we are transported to Sam and Molly’s new apartment and meet three of the four main characters of the show. The first of the evening’s musical performances soon follow and the vocal talents of Stewart Clarke and Rebecca Trehearn as Sam and Molly immediately shine through. The pair continue to perform with simultaneous power and emotion throughout the show and Trehearns voice particularly could have filled the auditorium without a microphone. Their on-stage relationship has you believing in them from the start. David Roberts as Carl is less impressive. Although still obviously talented, he lacks the power in his vocals to compete with his fellow cast members and at times his voice is lost in the music and overshadowed by the ensemble.
At this early stage in Act One, any dubious fans of the film are surely won around by the smart inclusion of Unchained Melody into the show. Clarke provides the first and most humorous of the evening’s renditions and as we watch and listen, the protective shackles over the film begin to loosen and you can’t help but begin to love the interpretation. This love can only multiply as we meet Wendy Mae Brown as Oda Mae Brown, a shop front psychic with a dreamcoat to rival Joseph’s. Following in the footsteps of Whoopie Goldberg is never going to be an easy task but Brown slips into character effortlessly and manages not only to convince us she is perfectly worthy of her rôle, but also adding her own unique quirks to Oda Mae’s personality. She develops the character further than you’d have thought possible and combined with a voice that blows the cobwebs from the rafters, steals the show. By the end of the final scene the audience are completely enthralled and so connected to the characters that there is barely a dry eye in the house and this performance more than deserved the standing ovation it received.
A special mention has to be made for the amazing array of special effects we are treated to throughout. With sleight of hand trickery on a grand scale when Sam dies, to mind boggling, morphing through door illusions, Paul Kieve’s effects are quite literally magical and at times, leave us completely baffled. Created to impress, their inclusion makes the show all the more enchanting to watch.
GHOST The Musical is well worth seeing and, although will always be shadowed by the film it is based on, is truly a spectacle in its own right. With amazing writer/director liaisons, a stellar cast and help from an obviously accomplished technical team it’s a show you will not forget in a hurry.
Will you be a believer? This reviewer certainly is.
Runs until: 15th June
Picture: Sean Ebsworth Barnes