Curtain Call Chats – Ghost The Musical –

Hello hello trusty stagehands and shining stars of the West End, so … I’m doing something new. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a pretty big/shamelessly obsessed theatregoer. Broadway, the West End, independent theatre groups, cheesy school pantos, you name it I’m there. Granted, I have ZERO acting or singing skills … I mean, I’m talking watching wet paint dry performance capabilities and nails on a chalkboard musical potential – but you can bet I will put on one hell of a comedic performance of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. Also, this term I’m taking a theatre module at uni which means I’m going to be seeing a new show each week until mid-March … cue ludicrous amounts of squealing from this gal!! So, I wanted to make this new lil series on my blog called ‘Curtain Call Chats’ to discuss my theatre thoughts – you name it, musicals, operas, comedies, tragedies, I’m ya gal.

So, we all know ‘Ghost’ the movie – the 1990’s sob-athon featuring the queen of short hair-dos Demi Moore and the one and only heartthrob that is Patrick Swayze, my ultimate teen crush. The first time I actually ever saw ‘Ghost’ I must have been about twelve, so props to my mum for setting the highest bar ever for my future relationships with the pottery scene, I mean SERIOUSLY all I want to do is crack out some clay and love it up with a shirtless hunk every time I watch it. Plus, we’ve gotta talk Whoopi Goldberg for a second because Oda Mae Brown is a comedic gem who was definitely cheated out of that $4,000,000 by Sam, she deserved it for her outfit alone. Anyway, so thanks to my mum drilling a love of ‘Ghost’ into me from puberty, when I saw that ‘Ghost The Musical’ was touring the UK the pair of us were always going to be found on the front row ready for some musical bops and ghost related financial scandals.

I think it goes without saying that there is definitely gonna be a lotttt of spoilers for both the movie and musical in this post so if you wanna avoid these maybe go have a gander at my older posts? Shameless promotion I know, I know hahaha. Anyway, before I mention anything about the performance I do want to give credit where credit is due to Bill Kenwright, the creative team and performers for this production because the amount of work and love they put into the show shone from the moment the curtain rose. Scratch that, the amount of care taken into putting together this show was clear even before it started through the mesmerising promotional images – I am a real sucker for a pink and blue colour palette.

But despite my love of the promo images, to be entirely honest, I didn’t think this show was my cup of tea up until the last twenty-ish minutes of Act I. Initially it was the pottery scene that threw me. Now, granted, I do know this is an adaption of the Broadway version of ‘Ghost the Musical’ so the UK tour adopted a lot of its ideas but the goofy, guitar version of ‘Unchained Melody’ just didn’t really do it for me. I understand that it intended to establish a more playful dynamic between Molly and Sam but it just fell short of that for me and seemed like it was trying to get a laugh rather than build on the heart-warming pottery moment the 1990’s film gave us. Of course, I wasn’t naive enough to go into this expecting Demi and Patrick on stage, that’s a given, I was just desperate for Rebekah Lowings (Molly) and Niall Sheehy (Sam) to place their own spin on the song, but like I said, it neither made me want to laugh nor swoon, it just felt kinda meh. That being said though, the two ‘Unchained Melody’ reprises later in the show were gorgeous and certainly resulted in some sentimental tears being shed by myself and almost every audience member in a ten-metre radius of me.

The same can be said for when Rebekah Lowings sang ‘With You’ which is hands down my favourite song on the original cast recording album … so it’s fair to say I definitely had some blummin‘ high expectations for it! But, luckily, Rebekah took something I already adored and somehow made me fall even more head over heels in love with it. In those four minutes and twenty-six seconds she sang, not one person in that theatre wasn’t holding their breaths, hands clutching their chests, M&M’s demoted to the floor because this wasn’t the time for snacking, this was Rebekah’s moment. Unfortunately, in contrast to this though was Sam’s murder scene, a moment where I expected to hear the sobs of every middle-aged woman in the theatre and instead didn’t, because it just lacked a spark that the film had already given us. Much like the pottery scene, sadly it just seemed a bit sloppy and as silly as this may sound, it looked acted. I know when I’m watching a good show because I forget that the people on stage are acting and become entirely immersed in the moment, but from the second the Willie came onstage the dynamics of the actors shifted and it all seemed like a rather clunky rehearsal. That is in no way a critique of the actor’s capabilities because outside of this scene they were all incredibly believable, but I just think the direction this scene was taken in wasn’t right. It lacked movement and a sense of real danger so in the end, I just wasn’t invested in the outcome of Sam’s death.

The body switching in order to distinguish between the dead character and the actor was, of course, a very interesting and captivating choice but I just personally didn’t love any of the death scenes, especially Carl’s. I know the extravagant window scene from the movie probably couldn’t be feasibly created on stage but even beyond this the drama and intensity of Carl bursting into Molly’s flat just lacked the sense of risk and flare it had in the film. Although outside of this, Sergio Pasquariello who played Carl fit the bill perfectly. I’d actually seen Sergio perform in ‘Heathers’ last year and it was so interesting to see him take on such a different role with such ease, especially during ‘Life Terms On A Dime’, I mean what a crafty bugger. He was a character I loved to hate and that is always something I relish in.

Speaking of something else I loved I need to talk about Sam’s final moments on stage as he walks into the light of the heavens because … wow. Having tiny orbs of warm, glittering light ripple across the theatre to represent his entering heaven was hands down one of the most breathtaking visual effects I’ve seen used in a theatre. Regardless of its simplicity, it had every person in the room turning their heads, desperate to watch the last glimmer of light before it disappeared and left us in darkness before the curtain call. Niall Sheeny was such a wonderful Sam, his chemistry with different characters just clicked, whether it was Molly or Oda Mae and he just made me genuinely care about his relationships with people. Niall and Jacqui Dubois, who might I say was a little firecracker on stage, bounced off of each other so effortlessly and hilariously and this refreshing new take on the 1990’s Sam and Oda Mae was just what I was itching to see. Also, I need to add that if I ever win the lottery you better believe I’ll be pulling an Oda Mae and singing ‘I’m Outta Here’ from the rooftops, what a bop!!

Okay so I think it’s pretty obvious that I have quiet a love/hate relationship with this show and maybe that’s because I’m just so attached to the original. But I can’t deny the fact that ‘Ghost the Musical’ did give me a whole new Molly and Sam to love outside of Demi and Patrick’s because Rebekah and Niall were incredible in their own right. I did truly fall utterly in love with that little Manhattan couple all over again, so regardless of the slightly underwhelming death scenes and the questionable steam-punk-esque subway ghost I did leave the show with a smile on my face, tear tracks on my cheeks and a merchandise hoodie in my bag.

And there you have it, my first ever ‘Curtain Call Chats’ post!! I had suchhh a fun time writing this one up, plus it gave me an excuse to watch a lot of clips of old productions which I would never turn down an opportunity to do haha! I hope you all have a fabulous and theatre filled week,

Lots of love, hugs and happy reading,

-E xx

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