Muddy Reviews: Ghost – The Musical
The musical version of Ghost – the classic story of love overcoming the ultimate barrier – is on at The Hawth in Crawley this Valentine’s week and my husband couldn’t wait to take me along. Yeah right. The first hint of an actor breaking into song and he’d be running for the fire exit so I went with my sister-in-law instead.
This is the touring stage version of the blockbuster 1990 film that starred Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg. A high proportion of the audience were of an age who, like us, would remember the film first time round and were there on a nostalgia trip but there were also younger people. Yes, it was female-heavy but there were a fair few couples present.
If you’ve really never caught the screen version yourself, then here’s a quick summary. Young couple Molly and Sam are ripped apart when Sam is killed in a botched mugging. Sam becomes a ghost but Molly is unaware of his presence so when he realises there’s more to his demise than meets the eye and that his girlfriend is in danger he enlists the help of a dodgy psychic to warn her.
The musical was actually written by Bruce Joel Rubin – the same guy who penned the screenplay so it’s fairly true to the film – so much so in fact that I had a jolt of surprise when the familiar opening scene included someone taking a selfie (no smartphones back in the original).
The music also has good credentials. Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics fame co-wrote the songs. Some of the numbers had a good layering effect (there’s probably a more technical word for this…) with different contrasting refrains taken up by different characters.
I felt a little unsettled about the prospect of seeing the ghost part made famous by Patrick Swayze now that he has left the mortal world for real. The leads – Andy Moss of Cutting It and Hollyoaks as Sam and West End stalwart Carolyn Maitland as Molly don’t do imitations however. (For a start it would surely be impossible for an actress to cry on stage as much as Demi Moore does in the movie). Both had singing voices with a nice depth.
So, how far up the cheese scale was it? Well, I did spend the first few scenes rather callously thinking “quit snogging and get to the bit where’s he’s dead” but once the full on lovey-doveyness was over it settled down nicely and of course the parts with reluctant psychic Oda Mae add a welcome humour.
In fact actress Jacqui Dubois who plays Oda Mae has perhaps the toughest shoes to slip into as Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar for her performance in the role. She does a sterling job however. The bit where she realises to her horror that while pretending to hear spirits she can actually hear one is as funny as in the film.
What about THAT scene with the potters wheel? Well, having winced in expectation of a snigger fest – and got an elbow in the ribs from my sister-in-law when the contraption was wheeled out – it was, to our relief, far shorter and less steamy than in the film and the clay didn’t err rise to the same height.
There was a neat sliding set and the special effects – simple but very effective – were a highlight. We gasped when a quick distraction technique had Sam’s ghost separate from his body without us having seen how it was done. The sound effect when Sam tries to swipe at doors is gratifyngly the same as in the film. In later scenes he and other characters (remember the angry subway ghost?) are able to move things without touching them. Sam’s final ascent into a sparkly heaven is also beautifully done (don’t worry, no Peter Pan wires!)
I heard some people got a bit teary at the end. As for me… err… ditto.