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A CurtainUp London London Review
Ghost the musical

You took my life with you, you took my world with you. — Molly
Ghost the musical
Richard Fleeshman as Sam and Cassie Levy as Molly (Photo: Sean Ebsworth Barnes)
Ghost the musical is a faithful reproduction of the 1990 Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze film but with songs, and as such, it will please many of the film's fans. Matthew Warchus' filmic production is unceasingly visual with many of the Wall Street computer generated images reminding me of Rupert Goold's production of Enron with the stock market prices projected onto the backdrop of Manhattan skyscrapers. This ensures that we never have the space to feel bored and coupled with the real drama of the story, the plot grips the audience.

The opening scenes between Molly Jensen (Cassie Levy) and Sam Wheat (Richard Fleeshman) concentrate on those arguments and small niggles that couples have which you wish you had never pursued once the relationship is over, and of course this relationship ends in tragedy. Sam is murdered in a bungled attempt to steal his wallet. His banking colleague and friend Carl Brunner (Andrew Langtree) has set up the street mugging so that he can get access to Sam's banking codes to cover up Carl's fraudulent money laundering activities. Sam becomes a ghost and when he sees that Molly is in danger from Willie Lopez (Ivan de Freitas), the punk who killed him, he recruits Harlem medium Oda Mae Brown (Sharon D Clarke) to help.

Whilst both Richard Fleeshman and Cassie Levy as Sam and Molly can belt out their numbers, often strong love ballad duets, it is the singing from Sharon D Clarke as Oda Mae in her heavy rock and soul, tuneful songs "Are You a Believer?" and "I'm Outta Here" sung atop a set of Louis Vuitton trunks, which brings the production to a musical high point. I very much liked the scenes on the subway train brilliantly projected with Adebayo Bolaji as the aggressive Rastafarian Subway Ghost in acrobatic fight manoeuvres who teaches Sam to move objects in the material world, in the number "Focus."

There are many sensational visuals and bright lighting shifts creating a spectacular show. Paul Kieve has created some magic illusions, so that we see Sam shot and immediately his ghost like figure springs to life while leaving his body there. Clever stuff! The choreography reflects the New York business world of hectic motion with more projected dancers doing virtual cartwheels and back flips. What worked less for me is the scene of crowded ghosts in the hospital in the number "Ball of Wax" introducing Sam to the spirit world.

The best comedy is from Sharon D Clarke and her pair of charlatan spiritualists, Clara and Louise (Lisa Davina Phillip and Jenny Fitzpatrick). I loved their scene where they put client Mrs Santiago in touch with her deceased relative only to be spooked by the appearance of a "real" ghost. The acting performances are so convincing that I was really involved and found Richard Fleeshman's predicament believable and touching. Sam's big number "Suspend My Disbelief/I Had a Life" closes the First Act after Molly's sad song looking back on their life together "With You". I didn't find Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard's tunes memorable on first hearing but maybe on repeat they will be. The lyrics are fine and not toe curling. The live band gives good support. And yes there is a pottery scene with a wheel and Molly throwing a pot onstage.

If you like your musicals full on, then Ghost the musical is for you!

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Ghost the musical
Book and Lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin
Music and Lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard
Based on the Paramount Pictures film written by Bruce Joel Rubin
"Unchained Melody" written by Hy Zarell and Alex North
Directed by Matthew Warchus

Starring: Sharon D Clarke, Richard Fleeshman, Cassie Levy, Andrew Langtree, Ivan De Freitas, Adebayo Bolaji, Mark White, Lisa Davina Phillip, Jenny Fitzpatrick
With: Jaygann, Ayeh, Paul Ayres, Samuel Edwards, Emily Harwood, Laura Selwood, Yemie Sonuga, Philippa Stefani, Jex Unwin, Sally Whiotehead, Mark Wiltshire
Choreography by Ashley Wallen
Design: Rob Howell
Illusions: Paul Kieve
Video and Projection Designer: Jon Driscoll
Musical Director: James McKeon
Dance and Vocal Arrangements: George Stiles
Musical Supervisor, Arranger and Orchestrator: Christopher Nightingale
Sound: Bobby Aitken
Lighting: Hugh Vanstone
Running time: Two hours 35 minutes including one interval
Box Office: 0844 412 6600
Booking to 28th January 2012
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 16th July 2011 performance at The Piccadilly Theatre, Denman Street, London W1V 8DY (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Overture
  • Here Right Now (Sam, Molly, Carl)
  • Unchained Melody (Sam)
  • More (Sam, Carl and Ensemble)
  • Three Little Words (Sam and Molly)
  • Ball of Wax (Sam, Hospital Ghost, Ensemble)
  • Are you a Believer? (Clara, Louise, Mrs Santiago, Oda Mae)
  • With You (Molly)
  • Suspend my Disbelief/I Had a Life (Molly, Carl, Sam, Ensemble)
Act Two
  • Rain/Hold On (Molly, Sam, Ensemble)
  • Life Turns on a Dime (Carl, Molly, Sam)
  • Focus (Subway Ghost)
  • Talkin' 'Bout a Miracle (Ensemble)
  • Nothing Stops Another Day (Molly)
  • I'm Outta Here (Oda Mae, Ensemble)
  • Unchained Melody (Dance)/The Love Inside (Sam and Molly)
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