Ghost The Musical
World Premiere, Manchester Opera House
Monday 28th March, 2011

Reviewed by Quentin Reynolds

 

When director Matthew Warchus took the stage before the opening of GHOST, The Musical, he basically apologised in advance should there be any hiccups with the performance. Apparently there had been technical hitches right up to dress rehearsal. He needn't have worried. If there were any, none of us noticed and really I don't think we would have minded.

GHOST is part comedy, musical, and mystery thriller with a supernatural theme. But above all it is a love story.

During the week I rewatched the original film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoppi Goldberg.

The stage version follows the movie very closely except for the pottery scene which happens while the character Sam is still alive in the film, but after his death in the stage version. It's the only scene that didn't work in the stage show.

As we're magicians you'll be wondering about the special effects, all devised by Paul Kieve. In a word, superb. Many of them received audible gasps from the audience, especially when Sam, played by Richard Fleeshman, walks through the door. Other major highspots are when the two evildoers are sucked off to hell. Far more spectacular and sinister than in the movie. And serves them right! Another scene worth mentioning is the passengers on the subway train suddenly floating up and down. All the special effects fitted the plot perfectly and show why Paul is at the top of his game.

The story moves at a good pace with Sharon D Clarke as Oda Mae Brown, the spiritualist, playing the role for which Whoppi Goldberg won an Oscar and playing it with gusto and passion. She almost stole the show.

Regardless of how good the music, the singing, the special effects, the scenery changes (which also were top notch using a semi-transparent screen with thousands of LED lights allowing for endless background changes), this is above all a love story.

So does the love story work? The chemistry between Sam and Molly (Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy) worked better than with any live show I've seen. There were many times during the evening when my eyes welled with tears and from the sobs around me, so too with the rest of the audience.

The audience responded with a spontaneous standing ovation. Though the cast need to take better bows. The audience definitely wanted them to take more than just one curtain call.

The show runs for another six weeks in Manchester before moving to the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End. I highly recommend this show. It is better than the movie.

 

Quentin Reynolds, April 2011

 

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