I have to be honest, when I first heard that they were going to make a stage version of the film GHOST, I immediately quivered with fear as I couldn’t possibly imagine how they would be able to adapt such a first class movie into a show for the West End, let alone make it into a musical. I mean the film didn’t have any singing in it apart from the infamous ‘Unchained Melody’ by The Righteous Brothers! But last night, on coach holidays
to London’s West End, I found myself at the Piccadilly Theatre and as the curtain rose and the show began, I was pleasantly surprised and it just goes to show how wrong you can be…
For those who do not know, GHOST The Musical
follows the story of a couple Molly Jensen
(Caissie Levy) and Sam Wheat
(Richard Fleeshman) who are very much in love. The show opens with the couple, along with the help of Sam’s
best friend Carl Brunner
(Andrew Langtree), renovating an old building in Brooklyn that they have moved into and plan to set up home together. After attending an exhibition one night, Sam
are mugged, leaving Sam
murdered on a dark street. Sam
is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next and is unable to leave Molly
who he learns, as the story progresses, is in grave danger. With the help of a phony storefront psychic, Oda Mae Brown
(Sharon D Clarke), Sam
tries to communicate with Molly
in the hope of saving and protecting her.
The highlight of the show for me has to be Oda Mae Brown
who was played superbly by Sharon D Clarke. I’m sure I
wasn’t the only one in the audience who thought that there was no one on this earth who could play Oda Mae Brown
as well as Whoopi Goldberg did in the award-winning film but again I was proved wrong because Sharon D Clarke was brilliant and her version of the character was (dare I say it) even better than Whoopi! I don’t think I’ll ever forget her take on the scene where Sam
stumbles across Oda Mae’s
Psychic Parlour and watches as she and her sisters con Mrs Santiago
out of her savings so she can communicate with her dead husband Julio
– as they colourfully sing ‘Do You Believe’ by the end of the scene, you certainly become a believer - in between clutching your sides from all the laughing!
I am so pleased to say that the production crew have kept the majority of the classic scenes that appeared in the film for the stage version. Highlights include: the lift scene where Sam
jokingly talk about the contagious illness that Karl
supposedly has making everyone in the lift storm out as soon as it arrives on the floor; in the apartment where Oda Mae
have a little disagreement and the whole ‘Attitude’ scene takes place (this had the audience in stiches last night); the scene in the bank where Oda Mae
goes to close the account for Rita Miller
and ‘gets a little gas from time to time’ (this was pure genius and again had everyone laughing) and not forgetting Oda Mae’s
fascination with the pen at the bank and just like Dirty Dancing
with the infamous ‘nobody puts Baby in the corner’ line, Ghost matches this with the immortal words ‘Ditto’ uttered by Sam Wheat
We also waited with baited breath for the immortal opening chords to ‘Unchained Melody’ but to our surprise, we were treated to a solo guitar performance of the song with Richard Fleeshman impersonating Elvis – it was brilliant! Another highlight for the female members of the audience was when Richard Fleeshman removes his top and reveals a rather buff body – the boy (or should I say man) has certainly been working out for this role!
A few extras have been added to pad out the show and these include the rather entertaining scene where, after Sam
realises that he is no longer alive, he is joined by a group of Ghosts
who proceed to tap-dance as they explain that being a spirit is not as bad as it used to be – it’s a ‘Whole New Ball Of Wax’ and getting in and out of doors is as easy as ‘Zip Zap’. Another comical scene for me has to be when Oda Mae
has to endorse the $10 million cheque to prevent Karl
from killing her and Sam persuades her to give it to a group of Nuns
– all I can say is it’s hilarious!
Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard have certainly done the musical proud with such an amazing score that’s so emotional that at some points during the show, I swear the hair on the back of my neck stood up especially when Molly Jensen
sings ‘Suspend My Disbelief’. In addition to the fantastic score, the special effects were literally out of this world and all credit must go to Paul Kieve (who also provided the magic seen in the Harry Potter movies). You really have to see it to believe it but particular highlights for me were: when some of the characters die and as if by magic their ghosts suddenly appear on stage; the dance scene between Molly
and Oda Mae
towards the end of the show as Oda Mae
miraculously changes into Sam
(it was so cleverly done that the audience were clapping throughout the whole sequence); when the bad spirits come to take the ghosts of Karl
; the scene on the train with the terrifying Subway Ghost
and of course, who could forget the scene in which Sam
in his office - things go flying and words magically appear on the PC monitor – I won’t spoil it for you but it is very cleverly done!
The stage setting is simple but effective and adds to the atmosphere of the show as does the lighting. The use of blue
lighting is extremely effective as it makes the character Sam Wheat
actually appear ghost-like on the stage. So great is the show that you wouldn’t believe that there were only 20 members of the cast as it certainly looks like there are more – you only realise this when they come out to take their bow as the show comes to a close. Credit definitely has to go to Richard and Caissie as they were so convincing as Sam
that you really believed that they were in love and this added to the emotional power of the story as you are drawn into their relationship and you almost feel Molly’s
pain and anguish as her love is ripped from her so cruelly. Testament to this is when the audience began to vigourously clap as Sam
says his ‘goodbyes’ to Molly as his spirit is finally taken away and he walks into Heaven.
I think it’s fair to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the stage version of GHOST and I would urge anyone who is a fan of the award-winning film to make a point of going to see the show. Does the Pottery Wheel make an appearance? You’ll have to go see it to find out….
Tickets to see GHOST the musical are like gold dust, so we’d love to hear from any of you who manage to see the show. What were the highlights for you? Are you a ‘believer’ as are we?