Wednesday, January 11, 2012

REVIEW: Ghost – The Musical (London)

Piccadilly Theatre (London), Friday December 23

Yes, this is the musical version of the famous movie starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg. Oscar-winning writer Bruce Joel Rubin for the movie Ghost, translated it to a musical by writing the book and lyrics; and with Dave Stewart (half of Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard writing the music and also the lyrics.
After seeing so many musicals based on movies (in which Lion King has to be one of the best), I can see how Ghost can actually work. It worked, it entertained, but it didn’t wow me.

Ghost – The Musical is like a dish cooked with all the correct ingredients, but the ingredients themselves were just not of the best quality. The songs were enjoyable at that moment yet not exactly memorable afterward. The set design was simple and sleek and accommodated the illusions perfectly. The illusions by Paul Kieve, integral to the title of the show, were executed with mixed effect; the good ones were stunning, while the bad ones were sloppy. Personally, I like the scene wherein Sam (the ghost) slowly appeared up-stage, and while I was thinking that it was all mirror-reflection-lighting (Pepper’s Ghost) effect, he then suddenly walked down-stage and past where I believe the mirror was supposed to be… I don’t know how they did it. The video design gave the musical a sense of cinematic pace.

The weakest part of the show was notably the performers. They had the looks but lacked the skill to make their portrayal truthful and believable. Richard Fleeshman as Sam was right for the role, while alternate Philippa Stefani as Molly was out of her depth resulting to evident lack of connection and emotional weight between the couple. Alternate Da’vine Joy Randolph’s Oda Mae Brown (who have been cast in the role for the Broadway production in spring 2012) was a delight to witness with the right balance of empathy and humor. What thoroughly fell flat were Andrew Langtree’s Carl Bruner (Sam’s best friend and also the villain) and Ivan De Freitas’ Willie Lopez (Sam’s killer), both performances were caricatures of bad people in pantomime.

I wonder how it will be received in Broadway when it opens there, but my bet is that it will not do well.

Ghost - The Musical
First performance at Piccadilly Theatre 24 June 2011
First performance at Manchester Opera House 28 March 2011
Book & Lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin
Music & Lyrics by Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard

Creative Team:
Choreographer: Ashley Wallen
Musical Supervisor, Arranger & Orchestrator: Christopher Nightingale
Lighting Designer: Hugh Vanstone
Video and Projection Designer: Jon Driscoll
Sound Designer: Bobby Aitken
Illusionist: Paul Kieve
Designer: Rob Howell
Director: Matthew Warchus

Cast Includes:
Sam Wheat: Richard Fleeshman
Molly Jensen: Philippa Stefani
Oda Mae Brown: Da'vine Joy Randolph
Carl Bruner: Andrew Langtree
Willie Lopez: Ivan de Freitas
Subway Ghost: Adebayo Bolaji
Hospital Ghost: Mark White
Clara: Lisa Davina Phillip
Louise: Jenny Fitzpatrick

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At January 12, 2012 at 9:26 AM , Anonymous SumiDP said...

I saw this show too and wholeheartedly agree with Satoshi.

Sam (I don't think was played by Richard Fleeshman the night I saw it as I would have recognised him from his UK TV career) was well cast physically and musically but was seriously let down by Molly (Philippa Stefani) who was weak vocally and who whined loudly far too often to be comfortable or forgiving. Her acting skills and American accent were somewhat lack lustre too. Sam's friend and the villain were extremely disappointing , both portraying typical British actors using stereotypical American mob style accents and body movements which were reminiscent of far too many amateur village hall and school productions.

Oda Mae was the star of the show along with some of the technical effects. How Sam disappeared in to fairy dust in front of our eyes was truly amazing as it was magical. A technical ‘Wow’ moment. Some of the elements played by the cast seemed unnecessary and added very little to the performance. The small tap dance part way through by one member although extremely well executed and most entertaining felt completely out of place with the rest of the production.
Overall, Ghost was entertaining but this particular night, seemed rather lacking and well below my expectations of what I perceive to be the standard of a London West End show.


At January 12, 2012 at 10:05 AM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

Dear SumiDP,
Thank you for your comment. It is good to know that somebody agrees with me or in some other cases disagree with me. Blogging can be a very lonely activity (haha!) and I certainly appreciate feedbacks. THANK YOU.


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