Ghost The Musical is based on the 1990 Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg vehicle “Ghost.” The musical’s almost identical plot centers around a young couple, played by Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik, moving in to a Brooklyn loft together. Everything seems perfect in Sam & Molly’s life until Sam is murdered in what seems to be a robbery gone wrong. Molly’s world is shattered. Sam doesn’t get off easy however, not only is he dead, but he finds himself stuck between this life and the next, a ghost.
As Sam adapts to life in the in-between, Molly tries to adjust to life without Sam. Sam’s best friend Carl (Robby Haltiwanger) starts poking around under the guise of comforting the grieving widow, but we the audience, along with Sam, see that he has sinister motives. Finally, Sam seeks out the advice of a psychic medium, who doesn’t think she has any real gift and scams her clients for money. Her name is Oda Mae Brown (Carla R. Stewart), and she is in for a shock when she realizes that she can talk to ghosts, but just one…Sam. Through Oda Mae, Sam is finally able to reach out to Molly. The result is one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories, set to music, and brought to life on stage.
The version of this show you’ll see at Music Hall at Fair Park is the First US National Tour which launched in Schenectady, NY last September. The cast is decent, even strong in parts, but the real star of this show is the staging. The show is not accented, but dominated by immersive 3D projection effects, intense lighting, special effects and elements of illusion that would make David Copperfield proud. Your eyes will be thrilled, your ears however, may be a little disappointed.
The music in this show is un-impressive and un-engaging. The songs are pop, which is great, but they are un-memorable. If not for the CD of music that was given to the press, I would have no recollection of any song in the show, with one exception, the frequent use of the iconic “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers. The original songs, especially in the first act, are so crammed with information and plot-progression that it saps the enjoyment out of listening to them.
The cast works hard to bring the story to life, in the case of Steven Grant Douglas, a little too hard. It may be the writing, but he basically screams the entire first act. In fact, I found the entire cast, with the exception of Carla R. Stewart, weak in the first act. Stewart plays Oda Mae Brown, the show’s intended comic relief. Stewart’s portrayal takes inspiration from Whoopi Goldberg’s character in the film, but takes on a life and originality all it’s own. If Oda Mae were the sole source of comic relief, Ghost The Musical could be taken very seriously, but the addition of “You Gotta Let Go,” essentially a “Disney’s Haunted Mansion”-esque band of ghosts comedically explaining to Sam that he is dead, breaks up, then kills the emotional balance of Act 1. Thankfully, the plot slows down in Act 2 and gets more dark and deliberate, the cast settles into their roles, and the show finally hooks you and brings you to the familiar, and beautiful conclusion that will bring a tear to your eye.
Ghost The Musical is a well staged, engaging, and beautiful spectacle that is definitely worth seeing, if not for it’s music, for it’s dazzling interpretation of a classic (can the 90’s be classic?) American story that warms the heart, and gives us hope that love never dies.