REVIEW: Ghost the Musical, King’s Theatre

In 1990 Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore starred in the tear-jerking romantic fantasy movieGhost. The successful movie gathered 17 awards including two Academy Awards and is remembered for its powerful love story, haunting soundtrack and that iconic pottery scene…
 
Over twenty years later Ghost the Musical has arrived to capture the hearts of another generation with its timeless tale of love, loss and heartache. Ghost the Musical has enjoyed time on the West End and on Broadway and has now set out on its first ever UK tour. With a book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin (the screenwriter behind the movie) and music and lyrics by Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart (one half of the successful pop duo Eurythmics) this show promises to be a night of laughter, tears and excellent music.
 
For the benefit of the rare person who is not familiar with the plot of Ghost, it centres around young lovers Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen who have just moved into their first apartment together, helped by Sam’s close friend and fellow banker, Carl Bruner. On their way home one evening Sam and Molly discuss getting married even though he struggles to say the three little words Molly yearns to hear him speak. They are attacked at gun point during their journey home and Sam is shot and killed. Sam is unable to pass through to the next world, determined to protect Molly after discovering that she is in extreme danger. Sam must try to persuade Oda Mae Brown, a fraud medium who is not as fake as she thinks she is, to help him save Molly from a fate similar to his own.
 
Stewart Clarke shines as Sam Wheat. His vocals are strong and full of passion, providing the audience with a very convincing and lovable Sam. His determination to protect Molly is apparent throughout and his chemistry with Rebecca Trehearn (who portrays Molly Jensen) is fantastically convincing from the first scene till the last. Trehearn provides unique and clear vocals that are full of emotion, as does David Roberts who was wonderful as the somewhat suspicious Carl Bruner. Wendy Mae Brown as Oda Mae Brown brings the comedy relief required in this powerful and emotional show, channeling Whoopi Goldberg all the way. The acting by all on stage is of a very natural and realistic nature which, from the moment the Overture fades, instantly grabs your attention and pulls you in to the iconic story line. I believe that these performers provided some of the strongest and most convincing portrayals that I have ever seen, making this one of the most moving and memorable shows around. The only fault I could find in this production was that, on several occasions, I felt the vocals were being drowned out by the orchestra. This was obvious during the musical numbers More and Are You A Believer? But it did not take anything away from this excellent show.
 
Visually, the tour’s set is (from the production shots I have seen) identical to the West End production. Around the stage there are large screens that helped to create illusions such as a subway train and often helped to set the scene. Although I felt these screens were overused in the first ten or so minutes of the show, their use was afterwards balanced and effective, giving Ghost the Musical a very modern edge. This modern feel was continued by the musical numbers, often upbeat, catchy and sometimes haunting.
 
It would be impossible to write about Ghost the Musical without mentioning the special effects, designed by illusionist Paul Kieve. Eye-catching, clever and moving, these illusions are the icing on the cake and help to make Ghost the Musical the phenomenal production that it is.
 
If you have the opportunity to see this show then I highly recommend it. Remember your tissues – you’ll need them! It seems appropriate to end this review with the word most commonly associated to Ghost the Musical: Believe.
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