Ghost the Musical: A Review
The stage version of the dazzling 1990 hit Ghost is back making its way around the UK, stopping in at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre. The classic musical, known for its iconic pottery wheel scene and romantic, yet deeply touching musical ballads, such as the classic ’60s ballad Unchained Melody has begun sweeping its way across the country melting our hearts all over again.
The musical stays true to the original Paramount Pictures film written by Bruce Joel Rubin. However, it has been adapted and re-tuned in order to present a more modern twist to the classic romantic tale. One of the ways in which it successfully achieved that was through the modern and stylish costumes as they were easily adaptable for any time period, from the 90’s until now, making the outfits more versatile and helping the audience relate to the characters more. The musical stayed here for six nights from the 22nd April to the 27th, bringing the 80’s classic to life right here in Liverpool.
The story follows the tale of a young couple, artist Molly and banker Sam who move into their New York City apartment with the hopes of starting their lives together, until tragedy strikes, and Sam is murdered by a mysterious gunman after a night out from an art gallery featuring Molly’s work. The heart-breaking and harrowing musical performance after her partner has been killed is carried superbly by the talented Rebekah Lowing, who brought emotion and sentiment to the tragic events of the show. Her performance of the song With You was especially demanding, but her strong vocal ability and emotional delivery made the scene more sincere and heartfelt.
The use of lighting in this show helped to create an obvious distinction between the characters, between the living and the dead. Sam, the ghost, had a blue-hued light on him to emphasise his sickly, phantom character. Instead, Molly and the other living characters basked in yellow light in order to create a sense of a healthy and lively glow. This was also a clever technique in order to create an ‘us’ and ‘them’ on-stage atmosphere between the living and the dead, a good alternative to CGI and other advanced visual effects limited to use by the film industry. This also made the scenes more emotional as Molly and Sam were both close physically, but unworldly and far apart at the same time.
One criticism I have about this adaption of Ghost, however, is that it is considerably more sad from the offset compared to the film version, directed by Jerry Zucker and starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. It lacked the comic timing and humorous one-liners that made the film brighter and cheery. The melancholy mood of the show made the production feel more like a tragedy from the offset, with not much comic relief, leading to many of the audience members appearing upset. Despite this, it could be said that this reaction was a result of the incredible and harrowing acting of the cast. On a more positive note, there were more light-hearted moments from the eccentric and fraudulent psychic Oda May, played beautifully and humorously by Jacque Dubois, who, caught between this world and the next, tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger. Identical to the plot in the film, this stage adaptation follows Sam as a ghost after his murderer, along with the help of Oda Mae, but this version has considerably more tragic elements throughout.
Despite the melancholy atmosphere of the story, the musical ended with a heartfelt and peaceful conclusion. In a state of calmness, the young couple sang to each other after Sam had completed his mission as a ghost and could now move onto the next life.