We all have a bunch of movies that remind us of our teens. For me one of those movies is “Ghost”. That one was every teenage girl’s dream back in the days: Romantic, sad and funny all mixed together. And it had Patrick Swayze and come on, we all loved “Johnny Castle”!
And now that much loved movie of my youth has been adapted for the stage. I’m one of those people that think there are too many movies being made into stage shows and too little original musicals these days. I’m always the sceptic when it comes to watching yet another film to stage show. I had read mixed reviews about this one prior to seeing it. Almost everyone praised the special effects (all that walking through doors stuff and so on) and the cast. The score didn’t seem to be everyone’s thing and some found the whole adaption a bit lacking in tension. However, it seemed to be a show worth watching.
I’m writing this after my second visit to “Ghost” which kind of answers one question straight away: Did I enjoy the show? Yes, I’m known for watching shows I don’t love various times simply due to people in the cast but on this occasion I can honestly say: I loved “Ghost”!
I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs: I’m not someone who cries a lot in the theatre. This one however had me sobbing in my seat more than once.
The cast is lead by Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman. Caissie was part of what I call “The summer of Hair” (2010). I adore that woman, I really do. She’s got an amazing voice and she is such a pure and natural actress. There’s something about her that makes the audience connect with her and the character she portrays right from the start. In my eyes Caissie is a real star. She’s talented, she’s beautiful and she’s so naturally nice. Her Molly is truthful, honest and vulnerable in such a personal way that you just want to take her in your arms and tell her everything will be ok. “With you” had me glued to my seat . Just Caissie on stage, singing – it doesn’t get much better than this.
I’ve seen Richard as Warner in Legally Blonde and I admit I wasnt very fond of him back then. I thought his portrayal of the character was rather bland (yes, I know Warner is not the most well written character in musical history but still…). So yes, I was unsure about him being cast as Sam and didn’t think he would be able to do the famous Patrick Swayze part justice. But as much as I don’t have a problem saying that I also don’t have a problem admitting when I’ve been wrong. And I was on this occasion – big time!! Richard’s Sam was everything I imagined it should be. The guy can act, the guy can sing and the guy can show emotion on stage. Him and Caissie work so well together. A pure joy to watch!
Another vital part in this show is Oda Mae Brown who was played by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie. I’ve been lucky to have seen both Sharon D Clarke and her understudy Lisa Davina Phillip in the role. Both were fantastic in their own way. In my eyes Sharon is a brilliant performer. She’s got the most amazing voice and really owns the stage. But I have to say if I had to make a choice I’d go for Lisa as Oda Mae. There was just something in her performance that made the character that tiny bit more natural and believable. Maybe it’s because whenever I see Sharon on stage I automatically see Killerqueen (from “We will rock you”, the show I first saw her in back in 2003). And Oda Mae Killerqueen just doesn’t work that well.
Andrew Landtree as Carl does a great job but I do think the character is not very well written. He’s a bit flat and the audience doesn’t get the chance to get to know him the way they get to know Sam, Molly and Oda Mae.
Ivan de Freitas is perfectly cast as the bad guy Willie Lopez. He seems to be stuck with playing similar characters though – bad guys who sometimes have the tendency to be a bit stupid (Sister Act springs to mind).
I’m not totally sure about either the Subway Ghost nor the Hospital Ghost. Both Adebayo Bolaji and Mark White are doing a good job but the characters themselves are not for me I’m afraid. First of all I think the whole “Ball of wax” completely destroys the emotional scene of Sam’s death. I mean, Sam dies (everyone’s sad) and the next thing we see is a Ghost doing a tap dance? Please!!
Then there’s the whole “Focus” scene with the rapping Subway Ghost. The scene is loud but it’s not as powerful as it intends to be and I found it rather hard to understand what Adebayo was saying or better, what he was shouting. The message got lost in the noise for me.
Big shout out to the whole ensemble! Everyone is working so hard on this show but unfortunately the ensemble doesn’t really get much attention. They are often reduced to being a bunch of extras that walk around in the background which is a shame. There’s some awesome choreography in this show and the ensemble guys and girls clearly are a hugely talented bunch of dancers.
I’d like to mention 2 people in particular at this point: Darren Carnall and Louise Lawson. I’ve known Darren for years now and have seen him in various shows. And he has always managed to catch my eye no matter how small his part has been. Seeing Darren dance really puts a smile on my face. His energy seems to know no limits and he’s got such a positive personality – the guy is amazing.
Louise used to work in Germany a couple of years ago which is where I first met her. It’s fantastic to see her in this big production in London now. She’s a great dancer and I hope she will be around in this business for a long time – she definitely deserves a place in the West End.
As the reviews had suggested the special effects in “Ghost” were quite stunning. I honestly didn’t manage to understand how some of them worked the first time I saw the show. My second visit revealed a bit more as I knew where to look the different scenes. I’m guessing once you’ve seen the show a few times the effects will lose a lot of their magic. But then watching the same show again and again is not what the regular theatregoer does. And for someone who goes to see “Ghost” just the one time those effects are truly magical.
I like the score of the show. It has some powerful ballads and it doesn’t overuse “Unchained Melody” (something I was most afraid of). “Here right now” and “With you” are the two songs that I enjoy the most followed by “I’m outta here” which is a really catchy and fun number. As mentioned before I’m not that keen on “Ball of wax” and “Focus”. But all in all this is in my eyes a great score with a good mix of ballads and uptempo songs.
If you haven’t seen the show please do give it a try. It’s worth it! I will definitely be back and yes, I do believe.
Ghost is playing at the Piccadilly Theatre. For more info go to http://www.ghostthemusical.co.uk/.