GHOST: THE MUSICAL
By Gary Murray
Starring Katie Postotnik, Steven Grant Douglas and Carla R. Stewart
Book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin
Music and lyrics by Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard
Directed by Matthew Warchus
Broadway has a love affair with old movies. Over the last few years, they have taken successful films and turned them into Great White Way gold. The Wedding Singer, The Producers and Sister Act are just a few examples movies that are Broadway smashes. The latest to hit the boards of the Music Hall at Fair Park is Ghost. It is a part of the Dallas Summer Musicals program.
The play is based on the film of the same name. The story is of Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) and Molly (Katie Postotnik). They are young and in love, moving into a giant loft in Brooklyn. The song “Here Right Now” shows them getting accustomed to their new digs.
Then Sam sings “Unchained Melody” the song from the Righteous Brothers. It is the tune that hooked the audience to the original film and is still the strongest single moment in the work.
The giant plot point of the work goes into play with the song “More”. Sam’s friend Carl (Robby Haltiwanger) is set with his character in this moment. It snaps and pops with a strong ensemble performance.
There is a sweet little number called “Three Little Words” where the tragedy of the work is set-up and soon after that Sam is part of the after-life. Stuck in limbo, he finds out that many spirits are caught in this between worlds place, trying to finish their quests before traveling on.
In what is the coolest bit of theater, Sam tries to get on a train and is stopped by another ghost. This subway ghost (Brandon Curry) has the ability to move objects on the train. He also pushes Sam around and off his train. It is the single most impressive bit of staging seen in quite a while.
Eventually Sam’s quest leads to psychic Oda Mae Brown (Carla R. Stewart). “Are You a Believer?” is the show-stopping number of the first act. Sam finds out that Oda Mae can hear him and Oda Mae finds that she has the true gift. The number comes across more as a revival gospel tune and is the first song that truly engages the audience.
The First Act ends with Sam finding out that his demise is not simply an accident. Act Two picks up at that same moment. Sam realizes that he must save Molly from Carl and devises an elaborate plan to take down the man.
In the biggest number of Act II is easily “I’m Outta Here” where Ode Mae executes Sam’s plan. It is a rousing bit of showy Broadway that brings much needed fun to the proceedings. This is, by-and-far, is the singing highlight of the entire work.
The songs are co-written by Dave Stewart, the man behind the Eurythmics. The songs have some of the basic hooks and feel of that seminal 1980s band but without the blistering vocals of Annie Lennox. None of the tunes are so memorable that they hang around the next day. It is more disposable pulp than unforgettable tunes.
The overall look of the play is more along the lines of Jekyll & Hyde or American Idiot, meaning a very modern vista. It is framed more along the lines of a rock concert than a standard play. This is more of an effects-driven work than most standard theater fair. There are smoke effects and flashes of strobe. The background is basically done with giant projection screens that can turn the stage into just about anything. It is brilliant and director Matthew Warchus and Illusionist Paul Kieve deserve the greatest praises.
Of the two leads, Katie Postotnik is the better singer and Steven Grant Douglas is the better actor. Both lean on their strengths and make up for the others deficits. Their two voices do blend together smoothly.
Stealing just about every scene she is in is Carla R. Stewart. Her Oda Mae is over the top to the point of caricature but still sparkles. It is just the kind of energy that is much needed in the work. It is just the right amount of flair.
Ghost does a good job at re-imaging the film and taking the basic plot into a different medium. It has a certain charm but in the end, it just makes one want to watch the movie again.
Ghost is one of my top ten movies. Whoopi’s Ode Mae and Shiavelli’s ,”I’d give anything for a drag” ghost in the subway, counterbalance the sentimental theme in the film with humor. Even though not a big fan of musicals, I’d give this one a chance.
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