Theatre Review - 'Ghost: The Musical'

Posted on: 11 August 2011 by Alexander Hay

This spirited cinema hit comes to the stage with added music and not a few special effects

Doesn't give up the ghost

A roller-coaster ride of thriller, comedy and supernatural romance is provided by the affecting and absorbing new show Ghost the Musical (Piccadilly Theatre) which Bruce Joel Rubin has adapted for the stage from his hit 1991 movie. 

The story, as you may recall, centres on the unshakeable, deeply held love between Sam Wheat, a banker, and Molly Jensen, an artist. When Sam is murdered in a killing organised by his so-called work colleague Carl Bruner, Molly is heartbroken. 

But Sam’s ghost returns to earth and contacts wildly eccentric psychic Oda Mae Brown, in order to be united with Molly – in spirit, if not in flesh – and tell her the circumstances of his murder and the name of the guilty party. This leads to all manner of problems and complications, with Molly herself almost becoming the next victim.

The transposition from screen to stage which initially I had reservations about, works here a treat as it is a show with wit and heart and lacks the saccharine nature of the Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze movie. The musical score by Dave Stewart, of the Eurythmics, and Glen Ballard, writer of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, is a well balanced, tuneful mix of power ballads and gospel (I’m Outta Here is probably the best number in the show), while the Righteous Brother’s Unchained Melody remains the motif.

The use of state-of-the-art video and projections skilfully evoke the kaleidoscopic frenzy of Manhattan life and conjures up a wide variety of locations from menacing sunway stations to sleek Wall Street offices.

But most impressive are Paul Kieve’s stunning special effects – Sam putting his hand through a door and disappearing into the air and characters rising up and leaving their bodies when they die.

Director Matthew Warchus draws splendid performances from Richard Fleeshman as Sam, a man trapped between life and death, who is only able to articulate his love when he returns in spirit form, Caissie Levy as Molly, the girlfriend who cannot get over the loss of her beloved partner, and most especially, Sharon D Clarke, stepping into the Whoopi Goldberg role, as the fake medium, Oda Mae brown, and acting as Sam’s intermediary with Molly, who, with her richly expressive voice, comes near to stealing the whole show.

In short then, a hugely enjoyable musical which I reckon will be around for a long time.

Box office: 0844 871 7675

Press: Janine Shalom for Premier PR 020 7292 8330

By Laurence Green

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Alexander Hay

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