Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ghosts, The Musical

GHOST THE MUSICAL…there are a lot of illusions going on!

There’s an adage in the theatre…the audience should not leave of the theatre mainly talking about the special effects and sets. GHOST THE MUSICAL proves that wrong. After the final curtain, the audience was excitedly raving about the on-stage special illusions, commenting about the comic level of Bruce Joel Rubin’s script, while humming the pleasant, if not memorable score, by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard.

The production is based on the 1990 box office smash movie, GHOST, also written by Rubin. It starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, who won the Academy Award as best supporting actress.

The musical closely follows the film’s story line. Sam, a young successful banker, who has recently moved in with Molly, discovers that there is manipulation of finances at the bank at which he worked. While returning from a restaurant, in which, once again Sam has difficulty verbalizing his love for Molly, the duo is robbed. Sam is killed.

He finds himself in the nether world, frustrated over his lack of truly communicating his feelings to Molly and concerned for her safety because of the awareness that Carl, his best friend and fellow bank employee, is the source of the financial manipulation. He enlists the help of Oda Ma Brown, a con artist and fake medium, to channel his thoughts to Molly. The results are amusing, and the plot twist open the door to numerous ghostly effects. Of course, as in all such stories, all ends well.

While some may be turned off by the unrealistic plot, this is an old fashioned two-Kleenex “chick flick,” meant as escapist entertainment. To appreciate all the positive aspects of the show, requires a suspension of literal belief.

The cast is excellent. Foremost are the comic talents of Da’vine Joy Randolph, who hilariously channels the medium, Oda Mae Brown. Brown doesn’t imitate Goldberg’s film antics, but develops a set of her own moves and sounds. Her Are You a Believer? is a show stopper, as is the scene in which she finds herself the short term possessor of 10 million dollars.

Richard Fleeshman (Sam) is the Broadway musical theatre matinee idol prototype...tall, handsome, gym sculpted body, good acting chops, and a great singing voice. His Unchanged Melody is well presented. He and Caissie Levy (Molly) have a realistic emotional connection, creating a believable relationship.

Levy, like Fleeshman, is natural and emotionally acceptable in the role. She has a nice singing voice, which she uses well in With You and Nothing Stops Another Day.

Bryce Pinkham’s vocals are musically on target, and he is effectively snarly as the friend turned bad.

Lance Roberts (Hospital Ghost), creates a poignant moment as he sings You Gotta Let Go.

Ashley Wallen’s well-executed choreography combines creative staging action and dance movements that enhance the story.

Jon Driscoll and his crew’s video and projection designs and execution are beyond impressive. The overall effect of street movements, ghost appearances and disappearances, and visual explosions, are visually awesome. Hugh Vanstone’s lighting, Paul Kieve’s illusions, and Bobby Aitken’s sound effects, all add significantly to the overall positive effect.

Capsule judgement: GHOST THE MUSICAL may not be a great musical, but it is a production that entertains, is filled with emotional tenderness and humor, and makes for a nice escapist theatre experience.

(In an open-ended run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.)