Playing iconic theatre roles is never easy. Now add the fact that the role is from an iconic movie, I don't envy the actors taking that on.
Usually, roles like these have intense fanbases who have the highest expectations when it comes to how these characters are portrayed. But such challenges also provide some incredible opportunities. The chance to explore these characters and put your own spin on them is something actors rarely pass the chance to do.
Performers Natalie Weiss and Steven G. Douglas are doing just that with their portrayals of Molly and Sam in Ghost: The Musical which is set to open at the White Plains Performing Arts Center this coming weekend. Stepping into roles made iconic by Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze is quite the opportunity and I was curious to see how each actor was tackling it and what can audiences expect from this powerful show.
What is it about these characters you find yourself connecting with the most?
Steven: Sam and Molly are two very optimistic people with their whole lives ahead of them and Natalie and I share that positive outlook on life. Plus, there's a sense of silliness a couple develops in the comfort of their home. (to Natalie:) I feel at home with you, so that helps establish the solid connection we need to communicate beyond the grave.
Natalie: I feel like I most connect with Molly's perseverance. There are a lot of people around her telling her what to think and what to believe. Though she struggles sometimes, she knows what is true, and she won't stop until she finds the answers.
This score is an absolute beast. What challenges and rewards have you been finding while performing it?
Steven: Returning to this music has been such a treat! Dave Stewart, of the Eurythmics (think, "Sweet dreams are made of these...") and Glenn Ballard (co-writer of Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill and Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror") clearly know how to write amazing music and have multiple Grammys to prove it. Singing this score is no easy feat, but when I surrender to Sam’s needs (and drink enough water), everything falls into place. Plus, I get to sing alongside Natalie Weiss. It doesn't get much more rewarding than that.
Natalie: Aw you’re too sweet! The pleasure is all mine. For me, I need to really rely on the foundation of my vocal technique while making sure Molly’s intentions are always present. The role vocally allows me to indulge in long legato lines while having some bad-ass rocker moments.
Natalie, what can audiences expect with your portrayal of Molly?
Natalie: To me, I think audiences can expect a new kind of vulnerability they haven’t seen from me before. Also, I’m really trying to bring a sense of strength to Molly that might not always be inherent in the lyric and/or libretto.
Steven, having already toured as Sam, are you discovering anything new about this character with this latest turn?
Steven: This is going to sound funny, but I am finding layers and aspects of Sam's personality that I didn't quite fully realize the first time around. Then again, I'm not the same person I was then, so it only makes sense that my portrayal of Sam has changed as well. The biggest thing that comes to mind is developing Sam's sense of humor. I think the tendency is to be like, "Oh no, I'm dead. (woe is me)," but I'm too busy trying to protect Molly to even realize the sadness. That helps develop those tongue-in-cheek moments with Oda Mae and few other familiar characters.
The film is obviously iconic, so what can fans expect and also be surprised by when they come see this show?
Steven: This story of love and loss is so universal. Audiences will be surprised how the music can elevate this incredible story to new heights. Fans of the film can expect to laugh and cry as they see some familiar moments (Two words: pottery scene).
Natalie: We think they’ll really fall in love with the chemistry we've been able to create between each other throughout our short rehearsal process. Kudos to our incredibly hard-working cast and fearless leader/director, Joe Walsh!
The show runs from Oct 13th thru the 29th. Tickets for “Ghost the Musical” at the White Plains Performing Arts Center start at $33. Tickets may be purchased online at wppac.com or call 914-328-1600.