Friday, 20 December 2013

GHOST THE MUSICAL (UK Tour) Review December 2013

There's nothing that the Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre do better than delight the city, offering a large musical production around Christmas time each year. Always an alternative to pantomime, previous December offerings have included Spamalot, Grease, Dolly Parton's 9 To 5 and this year Ghost The Musical

Definitely the most ambitious and perhaps the most exciting production to play at the theatre this year, there is great expectation and as with the five previous times I've seen it, Ghost The Musical never fails to disappoint. 

For those that are unfamiliar with the story (and that must be very few...) Sam Wheat is murdered, leaving heartbroken girlfriend Molly Jensen behind to pick up the pieces with the help of the questionable psychic medium Oda Mae Brown. 

Stewart Clarke, Rebecca Trehearn and David Roberts

Solihull-born Stewart Clarke admirably rises to the challenges of being Sam. There is a broken interaction between the character and everyone else in the show - for Sam is dead and no one can see him. Clarke however manages to connect with both fellow cast and audience and does so by delivering incredibly heartfelt tender moments amongst angrier moments requiring a strong vocal belt. 

Other heartfelt moments are provided aplenty by Rebecca Trehearn as Molly. Beautiful ballads With You and Nothing Stops Another Day both showcase and compliment her voice. David Roberts is a deceitful Carl, originally likeable but soon enough a boo-able baddie... but this is far from a pantomime!

Keisha Atwell, Wendy Mae Brown and Karlene Wray

Comedy moments are not sidelined however - Wendy Mae Brown as psychic Oda Mae Brown is a sparkling jewel in this production. Outrageous costumes and a badass attitude ensure all focus is towards her and she is worthy in receipt of rapturous applause by the curtain call. Her numbers Are You A Believer and I'm Outta Here are both lively injections of fun to the otherwise tragic events. 

Wendy Mae Brown, Stewart Clarke and Lewis Griffiths

I admire a huge effort that goes on behind the scenes of Ghost, with a record get-in period that spans three days (and nights), miles of cable and 7 automated LED video screens. The illusions by Paul Kieve are mind-blowing, but I must recommend sitting in the centre of the auditorium for maximum effect when viewing for the first time. Unfortunately, sitting to the far sides and close to the stage will have an impact on the magic's effectiveness. The angle of far side seats will result in illusions becoming blocked by set pieces and ensemble members who are stood in the way. 

The orchestration is most powerful and there is a strong, soon familiar soundtrack to the show. The sound levels do alter quite dramatically, sometimes randomly with many of the earlier songs strangely quiet. Despite niggles with ambitious technology it is important that theatrical boundaries are pushed and with many new musicals failing to succeed greatly in the West End here is a show that has enjoyed a 15 month run at London's Piccadilly Theatre, Broadway and US national tour with productions also in Italy and South Korea. Whilst in Birmingham at the New Alexandra Theatre you mustn't miss your chance to believe in the power of love. Buy tickets here. An ideal alternative to pantomime which runs until Sunday 5th January 2014.

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.

Related Articles
Behind The Scenes At Ghost The Musical
Ghost Is Dancing
UK Tour Review June 2013
Interview With Wendy Mae Brown
London Production Review May 2012

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