Bill Kenwright's staging of the timeless story of love.

This is a new stage version of the award-winning film starring Patrick Swayzee, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. For those not in the know, it tells the story of a ghost named Sam who, caught between this world and the next, desperately attempts to communicate with his girlfriend Molly and warn her that she’s in mortal danger from his murderer. 
A timeless tale about the power of love that beautifully blends the genres of romance and comedy, Ghost features The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody and numerous songs co-written by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart.

Since its opening in Manchester back in 2011, Ghost the Musical has built up a large fan base – from those who know and love the 1990 film starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, whilst grabbing the attention of a new generation. Bruce Joel Rubin, the award-winning American screenwriter from the film, has penned the book and lyrics for the musical, alongside music by Dave Stewart of Eurythmic fame and Glen Ballard. Following its initial success in Manchester and then the West End, Ghost transferred to Broadway and a UK tour followed shortly afterwards. Since then, productions have opened all over the world and most recently a new UK tour, produced by Bill Kenwright, has opened.

Mark Bailey’s design is built up of many separate components which appear on stage from the grid or the wings. The set is somewhat scaled down to previous productions but once the scenes are established, they do work. There may have been teething problems last night - being the first night in a new venue - but on several occasions, the set pieces were still coming in or out well into a scene; therefore seeming somewhat unorganised. Using the set for illusion does not work at all as the ‘mechanics’ can be seen clearly from the audience. This is such a pinnacle part of the show which has been greatly overlooked. Bob Thomson’s direction is fairly static and uninspiring throughout but Alistair David’s choreography is exciting and it would have been great to have seen more. Nick Riching’s lighting is good with some stunning moments such as in the final scene; it’s just occasionally the design feels restricted due to the lack of direction and imagination.

The band, under the direction of Tim Whiting, sound great musically although more time could have been spent with some of the principals vocally to match the standard. Fondly known for playing Rhys in Hollyoaks, Andy Moss takes on the role of Sam and has a very competent acoustic voice but sometimes struggles when belting. It’s a very tricky character to play well but Moss’ awkward body language doesn’t make him very enticing to watch at times. Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding plays Sam’s counterpart Molly. Unfortunately, as an audience member, she makes you feel very nervous. Her acting seems unnatural and although, there are certain places in her ‘pop’ voice that are pleasant, her abilities do not work with the demands of this show. Admittedly some of the vocal arrangements have been tailored to her needs but a lot hasn’t which I do feel is cruel.

The saving graces of the production are Jacqui Dubois as psychic reader Oda Mae Brown and Sam Ferriday as Carl. Dubois has superb instincts and exceptional comic timing. Her number ‘I’m Outta Here’ is soulful, fun and energetic. Likewise, Ferriday demonstrates real professionalism and although an unlikeable character, he still shines through. The ensemble are not widely used but they attack the material well and assist with scene changes well.

The strengths of a few cast members unfortunately can’t mask a lacklustre production with missed opportunities.

*** Three stars

Jenny Ell


3 Stars on Tue, 20 Sep 2016

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