If someone had asked me what movies I think would make a great musical, Ghost wouldn’t exactly spring to mind. This is one of the best known movies on the planet, with an iconic cast and an uncomplicated storyline that takes the viewer on an emotional journey through the actions of a dead man. I was more than a little sceptical as to how it would translate. So I am very pleased to report that within the first few minutes, my scepticism was blown out of the water.
This is not just a recreation of the movie with a few songs thrown in – this is a slick production, reimagined for the stage in the most stunning way. Combining the considerable talents of Illusionist Paul Kieve, Lighting Designer Hugh Vanston and Video and Projection Designer, Jon Driscoll the visual effects that were so ground-breaking in the film become breathtaking on the stage.
Director Matthew Warchus has done a brilliant job bringing Ghost The Musical to life. The jaw-dropping subway scene has to be seen to be believed and explosive subway ghost, David Denis will make you want to look twice before stepping onto your next train.
The chemistry between Rob Mills (Sam Wheat) and Jemma Rix (Molly Jenson) is unmistakable and they harmonise beautifully in song. Alex Rathgeber nicely builds the character of villain Carl Brunner to subtle and sleazy boil. The story is setup well by the three main characters who appear to have an idyllic life and everything to live for. Enter Willie Lomax, played to perfection by Ross Chisari and everything changes.
Wendy Mae Brown, who plays Psychic, Oda Mae Brown is an absolute standout. It’s as if Wendy was born to play this role and she certainly makes it her own. Outstanding vocals and perfect comedic timing has the audience laughing and wanting more. Supported by her two on-stage sisters; Evette Marie White (Clara) and Lydia Warr (Louise), their scenes are a riot.
The singing is strong and accomplished and the songs and musical arrangements mirror the emotion of the scenes. If I had a criticism, it would be that the orchestra was a little loud during some of the songs and overshadowed the voices but this didn’t detract from the action.
The ensemble chorus was as good as you’d see on any stage in the world. They are brilliant. Intricate and expertly choreographed, the chorus performs to the backdrop of their own shadows and they breathe life into the setting of New York City. Costumes and sets are reminiscent of the late 80’s with a contemporary twist, so not too retro but just enough to fit. Set changes and staging are flawless as is the tech – New York has definitely come to town.
There has been a lot of publicity and hype leading up to the Australian premiere – and for good reason. Ghost The Musical is a great night out. It has all the feels but will leave you on a high and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t miss this world-class musical with must-see tech and remarkable cast and crew who were fully deserving of its standing ovation. Verdict: Book. Go. See.
Ghost The Musical
Festival Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Performance: Saturday 9 January 2016 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 31 January 2016 (before playing Melbourne, Sydney and Perth)
For more information, visit: www.ghostthemusical.com.au for details.
Image: Jemma Rix, Alex Rathgeber and Rob Mills star in Ghost The Musical – photo by Jeff Busby
Review: Colleen Farrelly