Wednesday, 5 June 2013

GHOST THE MUSICAL (UK Tour) Review June 2013

Ghost The Musical is the stage adaptation of the 1990 film which everyone has seen.... surely? If you haven't, the musical stays loyal to the heart-breaking story of Molly Jensen (Rebecca Trehearn) and her boyfriend Sam Wheat (Stewart Clarke) who is shot and killed in a New York alleyway. Seemingly a random attack at first, Sam (who's ghost is trapped between worlds) seeks the help of psychic medium Oda Mae Brown to discover the reason behind his murder and ultimately to prove his love to Molly. 

From the moment the overture blasts out it is quite clear that this is no budgeted mockery of the film trying to cash in with it's many fans. Ambitious technology is at the forefront of the production and the many screens, projectors and ever changing scenery help to re-create the effects which are so easily achieved in the film on stage. Yes, Sam certainly walks through the door!

Stewart Clarke is a mightily impressive Sam, much angrier than previous castings, he makes clear the torment and confusion of being trapped between the human world and the afterlife. Not only admiral sensitivity in the subtle ballads but belting powerfully the bigger, angrier numbers such as I Had A Life.  Rebecca Trehearn (who had previously understudied the role in the London production) leads as Molly and has a seemingly exhausting job. The music by Eurythmics Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard is a demanding sing. Trehearn pours her heart into With You and Nothing Stops Another Day which had much of the audience quivering wrecks before the heart-rending final scene.

For the role of Oda Mae Brown in the movie, Whoopi Goldberg won the Academy Award for best supporting actress, London's Sharon D. Clarke and Broadway's Da'Vine Joy Randolph were both nominated for same award at the Olivier and Tony Awards. If there was such a thing as the UK Touring Awards Wendy Mae Brown would most definitely be nominated too. Oda Mae Brown is the most infectious character and steals every scene she is in. This comedy role is most definitely needed to take away from the heartbreak of most of the other scenes. Together with sisters Clara and Louise (Karlene Wray and Keisha Atwell) and Maeve Byrne as Mrs Santiago, the psychic parlour scenes are filled with laugh-out-loud moments. Oda Mae's disco number towards the end - I'm Outta Here is perhaps the musical highlight of the show, where she envisages the many things she plans on doing with the ten million dollar cheque she has just withdrawn from the bank. (You can read my interview with Wendy here.) 

David Roberts is a deceitful Carl Bruner - Sam's best friend, for a while... Likeable at first and then suitably twisted as the plot thickens revealing his secret. Ivan De Freitas reprises his role from the London production as hit-man Willie Lopez which he plays with extreme sliminess. Stevie Hutchinson is impressive as the acrobatic Subway Ghost. The ensemble are all on fine form and work Ashley Wallen's exciting, disjointed current choreography well and provide excellent eerie harmonies. 

The show is testament to not only the cast but the incredible crew who worked around the clock to take Ghost from Edinburgh to Wolverhampton in just three days. It is a difficult job to ensure Paul Kieve's illusions work perfectly and the amount of technical equipment required means that 21 production staff are on hand. (Find out more behind the scenes here.) 

Ghost is an incredible theatrical experience unlike any other. Visually spectacular and will continue to reduce audiences to tears for it's entire run. Tickets are in high demand at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, you cannot miss out on the Midlands premiere of what has to be the biggest West End production to visit the region - BOOK HERE. Playing until 15th June 2013.

Social Media was overflowing with responses to last nights opening show. Here are a selection of the casts comments!

With Michael Cortez, Maeve Byrne, Amy West, Gregor Stewart, Wendy Mae Brown and Rebecca Trehearn

Cast List: Stewart Clarke, Rebecca Trehearn, Wendy Mae Brown, David Roberts, Ivan De Freitas, Stevie Hutchinson, Karlene Wray, Keisha Atwell, Maeve Byrne, Michael Cortez, Kimmy Edwards, Gabriela Garcia, Lewis Griffiths, Bradley Jaden, Gregor Stewart, Amy Webb, Amy West, Luke Wilson, Jaye Juliette Elster, Livvy Evans, Robert Knight and Michael Stewart. 

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