Theatre Review: Ghost The Musical

By Lauren Cohen

“Ghost: The Musical” brings a whole new meaning to the idea of making magic on stage. In the new show playing at Broward Center for the Performing Arts through May 11th, wondrous illusions and groundbreaking stagecraft are the real stars.

An adaptation of the iconic 1990 movie starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, “Ghost” tells the story of Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) and Molly (Katie Postotnik) – a young couple who are torn apart after Sam is murdered during a mugging. His spirit, however, remains on Earth. When he finds out that his death was part of a set-up, he enlists the help of flashy psychic Oda Mae Brown (Carla R. Stewart) to help him protect Molly.

The music, which was composed by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, is neither memorable nor catchy. It’s the kind of music that feels more like an afterthought – something that’s all too common when it comes to film-to-stage musicals. It begs the question of why they felt the need to turn this into a musical, when it would have worked exceptionally as a tight, dazzling play. Nevertheless, the tunes are inoffensive and pleasing enough to the ear to get the job done.

Unfortunately, the cast doesn’t do the lackluster music many favors. The actors are clearly very green (this is a non-equity tour, so that shouldn’t come as a big surprise), but with a story that relies so heavily on emotion, they can’t help but detract from the overall impact. Carla R. Stewart as Oda Mae is the only real standout — she brings plenty of comic relief and commands the stage from the very moment she appears on stage in her rainbow frock with her two hilarious sidekicks in tow. When she completed her introductory scene, it was the first moment of the night that the audience responded with real gusto – an enthusiasm that she kept afloat for the remainder of the show.

Where “Ghost” absolutely thrives is as a stage adaptation.
This is close to a word-for-word reenactment of the movie. All of your favorite moments are here (yes, that means the famous pottery wheel scene), and even the smaller moments that most would never remember – such as Sam singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” as a means to annoy Oda Mae into helping him – are live and kicking here.

So I know what you’re thinking: if the music and performers are nothing special, why should I see this instead of just popping in the DVD of the movie? And the answer to that question is why I wholeheartedly recommend this show: the special effects.

Illusionist Paul Kieve has come up with some masterful stagecraft here. Utilizing state-of-the-art video projections and holograms like I have never before seen on stage, this can only be referred to as groundbreaking. Moments such as when Sam slowly passes through a door, or when he fights another ghost on a subway train, were truly extraordinary. This is truly the pulse of the entire production.

“Ghost” may not be for everyone. The movie is one of those that captured hearts (not to mention a few Oscars) when it first came out, but in hindsight is now looked back on with a bit of a wink. But for those that still think ‘ditto’ when they hear the words ‘I love you,’ “Ghost: The Musical” will be quite a spectacle-filled treat.

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