Lewis C. Baird, Contributing Critic - United Kingdom
Another week and yet another musical I have never seen, nor know anything about. "Ghost" is an iconic movie from 1990, which starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. I haven't seen the film. Its been on my watchlist for a while, however I never have gotten round to watching it. So, I thought I would dive in head first and attend the press evening for "Ghost the musical" at Edinburgh's lovely Festival theatre to see what the stage adaptation has to offer.
“Ghost the musical” follows the story of Sam, a young man with a promising future, one which seems destined to be with his girlfriend, Molly. However, after a robber shoots and kills Sam, he becomes a ghost, one which is unable to move objects, communicate with Molly, or any other living being, apart from the fraudster, Oda Mae. Oda Mae and Sam then embark on an investigation into Sam’s murderer.
Niall Sheehy gives an honest, yet very light-hearted portrayal of Sam. Niall’s singing voice is very strong, it is also very distinct with its bass tonality, and almost a contrast from Sam’s light on his feet, chirpy characteristics. For myself seeing this story for the first time, overall, the intrigue of Sam’s restrictions as a ghost was presented well by Sheehy. In regards to dramatic points, there is definitely some moments where perhaps Sam’s emotion is at one level, there is either not enough desperation or the desperation is too much, there is no in-between, however, when Niall regulates the characters emotion and intensity, we get a very good portrayal of a man desperate to get back to the woman he loves. All in all, this is an enjoyable performance from Sheehy.
Rebekah Lowings gives us an emotional and powerful portrayal of Molly. Rebekah’s emotionally driven character journey for Molly leaves the audience happy, upset and angry, it really is a rollercoaster of emotions for the audience to endure. Rebekah definitely performed the script to the best of her ability, especially when she singings, her voice is astonishing, she simply allows her voice to belt the emotional pain Molly is going through. Molly’s musical numbers are pretty much written with no emotional shift, this is obviously a creative team issue, but for Rebekah to own these songs and lift them more than they probably have been previously is very impressive. That’s probably why I appreciated this performance a lot, mainly for the fact that Rebekah made Molly more in depth than she is on paper.
Jacqui Dubois is hilarious and absolutely joyous as Oda Mae. Jacqui enters this musical and absolutely lifts it, by giving it a humongous burst of colour, her comic timing is flawless, she doesn’t miss a beat, Oda Mae’s reaction to hearing Sam for the first time is hilarious, and the audience almost crave for more stage time between these two as it seems like Oda Mae and Sam’s relationship becomes the most meaningful relationship towards the end. You can also undoubtedly compare Jacqui to Whoopi Goldberg, her portrayal was definitely one which was rich with humour, sass and just a huge personality which was great to watch on stage.
Sergio Pasquariello as Carl, presents us with an Indepth portrayal of a character who shows us that not all is as it seems. There are some glorious moments where we see some slight acting to show the light and shade of this character. This definitely was a character which has a slightly different and unexpected twist in their tale, and Sergio’s very strong performance was why this portrayal was so enjoyable.
Jules Brown gives us a great villainous portrayal as Willie, there is a barrier which Brown creates which makes this character inaccessible, which works well to isolate him from the audience, and create a mysterious villain.
This show has an ensemble which provide a multitude of different characters, they work well to create the feeling of a busy city environment, and also add more layers to Sam’s journeys of being a ghost. The ensemble for this production of "Ghost the musical” are as follows, James Earl Adair as Hospital ghost, Lovonne Richards as Subway ghost, Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy as Louise, Sadie-Jean Shirley as Clara, Chanelle Anthony as Ortisha, Josh Andrews as Detective Beiderman, Samantha Noel as Officer Wallace, Charlotte-Kate Warren as Miss Santiago, Kage Douglas as Orlando and Michael Ward as Robert.
So, even though I have not seen the film in full, I decided to watch clips and trailers from the motion picture of “Ghost” just to get a feel for it and try to relate it to the stage musical. That proved to be quite difficult. As mostly, the movie seems to have a serious tone which has real intensity and more mature themes. The musical was very quirky and at points quite cheesy. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I believe that the director for this production, Bob Tomson, wanted to go in a different direction, by taking the story and making it something a bit different. And I think the contemporary vision works and at points it really is its own individual being. The set and costume design by Mark Bailey really are great, just at points the set looks a bit static due to not being on rollers. However, it does also look bright, creative and fits in with the quirkiness, especially when complimented with Nick Richings colourful and energetic lighting design. Bruce Joel Rubin’s book for this musical, is perfectly fine, it tells and translates the story to stage well.
Until the last page. Where, unfortunately, there is some of the most anti-climactic and lazy writing I have seen within a musical, which leaves the audience wanting more, but not in a good way. Rubin collaborating with Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart for music and lyrics, delivers a good range of songs, which definitely show a high standard when it’s for the ensemble like “More” or Oda Mae’s song “I’m Outta Here”. However, when it comes to Molly, I feel she was given all the sad and depressing songs, even though this matches with the character’s emotions, the music she sings, all sounds the same, with no genre or tempo switch up.
Overall, this musical is good for audiences looking for a fun and lighthearted evening/afternoon of entertainment, however, for the “Ghost” motion picture super fans, this may not be for you, as it is definitely directed in a different tone while keeping with the same story. This show does however, showcase some fantastic talent, who put their all in to providing you, probably the best production of this musical in recent years.