I always proceed with caution when being informed a new musical is opening based upon a hugely popular and award winning film. Let’s face it, it can go either extremely well or horribly wrong. But isn’t the true with everything? GHOST – THE MUSICAL is almost too easy to pen into either category. The Broadway follows the plot of the original film. Sam, a banker, and Molly, a sculptor, are a love-struck couple. One of Sam’s charming yet mildly annoying traits is his inability to say ‘I love you,’ to Molly. Instead he employs the word “ditto.” Really Sam, those three little words are not that difficult to say but that’s my pet peeve. Their magical love is soon shattered by the mugging and murder of Sam, which was orchestrated by Sam’s best friend Carl. Becoming a ghost, Sam has a hard time coping with the fact he cannot be seen or heard by the living. As fate would have it he runs across a fake window psychic Oda Mae Brown (as it turns now she really does have the ability to connect with the departed) enlisting her help to protect and contact Molly from beyond. And yes, I did laugh at the wonderful line, “Molly, you in danger girl.” Which still holds up as one of the best movie quotes of all time.
Admittedly I had high hopes for the score of the show. With rock great Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics and Glen Ballard at the helm I was sure there would be some smaltzy love songs. After all GHOST as a film and book was a romantic story of love, faith and belief. Though they did a palatable job with the material some of the lyrics were too simplistic, overblown and downright corny. On too many occasions songs and dialogue seemed to get in the way of each other making either one impossible to follow. The intermittent dancing was another distraction that just didn’t fit with the story line or songs they were accompanying. In regards to the actors of the company each deserve praise for infusing their performances with life and energy. As I expected Carla R. Stewart as Oda Mae Brown not only steals the show but runs away with it. Perfectly cast as Whoopi Goldberg’s predecessor (Goldberg won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the film) was sassy and an absolute delight as the con-artist medium hustler. Steven Grant Douglas as Sam comes off as a bit of a light weight and whiny. Which I don’t believe is necessarily his fault. It’s the way the part seems to have been written. Katie Postotnik as Molly holds her own with a touching and at times emotional performance. Robby Haltiwanger as Carl Bruner doesn’t present a truly menacing evil bad guy with ulterior motives. True to the film’s story in the long run he will certainly get his comeuppances.
Perhaps the biggest stars of the show GHOST – THE MUSICAL are the special effects. Sam does appear to walk through a solid door, two large LED screens with moving parts play Jon Driscoll and Michael Clark’s videos and interact with the action on the stage. These elements bring interesting seamless transitions as one scene and location switch to another. That being said, they do possess the potential of being distracting but maybe that’s the point. GHOST- THE MUSICAL is flawed and far from perfect. It weighs itself down with sentimentality which in any other case would be fine; not so much here. There’s distracting dialogue, overlapping songs and a mish mosh of a story. Take heed all you writers of the Broadway stage and other mediums; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Leave the classic films as wonderful memories that can be revisited time and time again.