To some Ghost will always be Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore doing the sexiest pottery you have ever seen while the Righteous Brothers plays softly behind. This is so for me, but when it was announced the new musical would be touring I was intrigued and keen to see it, if only to see what sort of adaptation had been made.
In some respects it was without a doubt the most spectacular thing I have ever seen on stage, and several times my mind was blown attempting to grasp how effects were done. Sam walked through the door – yes straight through it, on stage, right in front of you. Objects flew in slow motion and were moved with no one near to touch them. Whatever magic was done was done perfectly seamlessly and left everyone frozen in amazement.
A personal highlight of mine was the subway. Not only was the scenery fantastically versatile, moving to see the train carriage from both the side and the end without a hitch, but Stevie Hutchinson as the subway ghost was wonderfully scary while interpreting the role in a new way more relevant to the younger audience of the show. His rap is one of the few songs that fits in well and was performed with passion and energy.
Sadly the rest of the songs were forgettable and felt as if they had been thrown together just to get the show out there. While they were enjoyable when listening as soon as they had finished I found I could recall neither lyrics nor tune. Likewise, the dance routines felt lacking and just didn’t feel like they had been thought about. The ensemble performed them with great fervour but it wasn’t enough (for me) to make up for the meagre choreography.
As well as the subway ghost, the characters of Oda Mae (Wendy Mae Brown) and Sam (Stewart Clarke) were cast perfectly. Their relationship was the perfect balance of affection and irritation and Brown in particular matched her movie counterpart fantastically, her performance lively and emotional. Clarke interpretation of the baffled ghost destined to save his love was charismatic and tender, his vocals passionate and with wonderful tone. David Roberts’ portrayal of Carl was also very well executed and he played the slimy betrayer convincingly, with just the right amount of bastard to still make you feel for him when he meets his end.
All in all, the show is visually impressive, with effects that will leave you pondering for days and even weeks. Unfortunately, the music is less likely to stay with you, a sad turnout for one of the best reviewed recent musicals. Worth a watch, but doesn’t come close to the movie for me.
Rating – three stars
Ghost the Musical is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome until 14th September.