Book &Lyrics: Bruce Joel Rubin
Music &Lyrics: Dave Stewart &Glen Ballard
Director: Matthew Warchus
Reviewer: Holly Spanner
Since premiering at the Manchester Opera House in early 2011, Ghost the Musical has enjoyed short runs in both the West End and on Broadway with the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff marking the first venue of the new UK tour. It has been nominated for 5 Olivier’s, 3 Tony’s and winning the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design. After its run in the West End, the show had been changed for adaptation on Broadway, and this new touring production is closer to the Broadway incarnation.
Adapted for stage from the iconic 1990 movie, Ghost is essentially the story of love and how it transcends all borders. The brutal murder of Sam leaves his girlfriend Molly alone and in danger of the same fate. Discovering the truth, desperate, he finds a way to communicate; through phony psychic Oda Mae Brown. With a colourful history and a wardrobe to match, she tries to convince Molly that Sam is stuck between worlds and that she is in jeopardy.
The use of lighting, projections and illusions are outstanding. Sam is lit throughout with a pale blue light giving him the appearance of a glowing Spector. Technically complex, images are projected onto different mediums creating everything from basic backdrops to matrix-style digital fortresses, weather and sunrises. In another scene, while pursuing his murderer, Sam finds himself on the subway where he meets a ghost with a special ability. In a fast paced and nail-biting scene, perspectives are shifted as the underground train hurtles through the tunnel at high speed; a very clever piece of staging which combines the high-tech projections with illusion. There’s an element of symbolism which can be picked out from using these methods or it can be enjoyed as simply a visual extravaganza. The opening scene, Here Right Now for example, incorporates a number of projections of the same image onto different layers at different depths on stage creating an effect similar to that of an eternity mirror, and a symbol of their eternal love despite obstacles. Magic allows for another worldly essence that has been integrated into the show, blink and you’ll miss how they do it. Actually, you’d probably miss it even if you don’t blink, leaving the audience with a sense of wonder among the sadness.
Welsh actress Rebecca Trehearn plays Molly, who after the wizardry and tech of the ensemble numbers, through all the effects and magic, proves she can still hold an audience fuelled only by emotion and her voice. Sam Wheat is played by Stewart Clarke who has a huge amount of power to his vocals; perfect for a frustrated ghost, while Wendy Mae Brown boasts excellent comic timing as Oda Mae Brown; receiving thunderous applauses and more than a few laughs throughout the show.
Like the film version, music includes the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody which has been woven into the score. A mixture of ballads, upbeat numbers, duets, big ensemble numbers and even pop style music, Ghost has all the elements of your traditional musical albeit in a much more modern guise.
Ghost The Musical is a unique and highly visual production. A beautifully tear-jerking film-to-stage adaptation with cinematic elements and themes of greed, jealousy and betrayal as well as intense, inseparable love; Ghost The Musical is not one to miss.