Touring – reviewed at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
A refreshingly strong turn from Rebekah Lowings ensures that the latest touring production of Ghost The Musical is alive and vibrant at the Festival Theatre, despite the show’s cloying sentimentality.
Based on the 1990 movie, Ghost The Musical adds a soundtrack by David Stewart and Glen Ballard to Bruce Joel Rubin’s thriller-come-love story which had the world weeping thanks to Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze’s final chance to make pots together.
Molly and Sam have it all to look forward to when they move in to a trendy New York loft, what with his high-flying banking job, her growing stature as pottery artist and a fine friend in Sam’s best pal and work colleague Carl. But most of all, they have each other.
Until, that is, Sam is murdered in a pointless attempt to steal his wallet. And within ten minutes of the curtain rising, he’s in a limbo – unable to pass into the next world thanks to his unfinished business and left maundering around, watching, without being able to influence anything.
Revelation comes from the unlikely combination of quack psychic Oda Mae, who discovers to her own surprise that she can hear Sam, and a violent ghost on the Subway who, in his own despair, has learned how to move physical objects.
Previous tours of this Bill Kenwright production tried first fancy lighting and video effects and then, most recently, celebrity casting to try and bring something new to the show. For this tour, director Bob Tomson returns to proper staging and performers who can deliver.
With only the modicum of special effects – used to excellent effect – in Mark Bailey’s set and Nick Richings’ lighting, and strong performances all the way down the cast, this feels like the real deal.
The success is largely due to Rebekah Lowings as Molly, however. Musically, she gives herself plenty of space to find all the complexities, theatre and drama of the plot-driving musical numbers. Meaning that the early hints at what is to fall out are not the give-aways that once they were, as she draws you into her own story and grief.
Niall Sheehy is on something of a hiding to nothing as Sam, to be honest. Who is going to mourn the passing of another corporate banker? With the scene-setting romantic business out of way, his journey into the afterlife isn’t exactly one of humility, nor lacking in arrogance.
Sheehy plays it well enough however. He knows just how to hang around on stage – visible only to the audience, and, when needed, able to let rip with a fine pair of pipes. And his scenes with the excellent Jacqui Dubois as Oda Mae, the role take by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie, are brimming with comedy.
There’s strong support throughout. Jacqui Dubois is believable in all the facets of Carl’s character, while Jules Brown is thoroughly evil as killer, Willie Lopez. James Earl Adair gives an understanding delivery to You Gotta Let Go Now as the Hospital Ghost, waiting for his own wife to die.
A scene from Ghost, with Jacqui Dubois. Pic Pamela Raith Photography
Lovonne Richards puts in a strong physical performance as the Subway Ghost whose slow-mo scenes with Sam are excellently choreographed by Alistair David and smoothly delivered by both Richards and Sheehy. While Richards’ delivery of Focus adds another layer to the whole production.
And throughout it is the delivery of the ensemble scenes, the company’s vigour and commitment to the cause, the which allows the whole to overcome any issues of cliche, dramatic shorthand or thin-ness of plot.
Okay, so it still over-eggs the sentimentality, but if that is of no concern it is once again safe to believe that this is a musical which will deliver a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining night out.
Running time two hours and 30 minutes (including one interval).
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Tuesday 25 February – Saturday 2 March 2019
Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Thu, Sat 2.30pm.
Information and tickets: Book here.
Ghost the Musical on tour 2019:
Tue 29 January – Sat 1 February
0116 242 3560
Tue 5 – Sat 9 February
New Victoria Theatre
0844 871 7645
Tue 12 – Sat 16 February
028 7126 4455
Tue 19 – Sat 23 February
0844 871 7650
Tue 26 – Sat 2 March
0131 529 6000
Tue 5 – Sat 9 March
Tue 12 – Sat 16 March
0844 871 3022
Mon 18 – Sat 23 March
029 2087 8889
Mon 25 – Sat 30 March
0844 871 7648
Tue 2 – Sat 6 April
The Sands Centre
Tue 9 – Sat 13 April
Grand Opera House
028 924 1919
Tue 16 – Sat 20 April
0844 871 3019
Mon 22 – Sat 27 April
0844 871 3017