GHOST THE MUSICAL presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through Oct. 6. You can read the show description here.
The good news is that the opening night audience at GHOST The Musical enjoyed the production alot more than I did. The not-so-good news is it doesn’t take much to enjoy the production alot more than I did.
To be fair, this is a new, non-equity, technically-demanding production with only one week under its belt. It’s still very rough around the edges.
The best thing about the show are the voices. All four leads (Steven Grant Douglas as Sam Wheat, Katie Postotnk as Molly Jensen, Carla R. Stewart as Oda Mae Brown & Robby Haltiwanger as Carl Bruner) sound great…when you could hear them. At times they were overpowered by the orchestra and/or background vocals.
Douglas and Postotnik have a very short amount of time to establish their relationship. In such a big venue as the P&G Hall, we need to hear the emotion in their voices but they haven’t quite reached that point yet. I’d also encourage Sam to explore a bit more vocal variety as there is a whole ‘lotta yelling going on.
Stewart as Oda Mae Brown was a highlight of the show. Her performance seemed more comfortable in the scenes outside of the psychic parlor and she had a fun and believable rapport with Sam’s ghost. Opening night a wardrobe malfunction (well hair-accessory malfunction) turned “I’m Outta Here” into a one woman battle with a plastic bird. Stewart struggled valiantly without missing a note or step and the audience was rooting for her the entire number. Personally, I was hoping she would bring it out with her for curtain call.
The video elements worked well at times, especially for several of the special effects. The opening sequence through the city is great. Unfortunately the video technology is overused to the point that many times it’s just moving “white noise” that interferes and distracts from the action on stage.
The special effects when they worked were impressive. The three onstage deaths worked very well as did the scene in Carl’s office. The slow motion effects in the subway car were great, but the shift in perspective (and perhaps a timing issue) gave away the stage magic. Oda Mae, in rushing from the bank to Sam & Molly’s apartment, stopped somewhere to don a large black cloak. It’s need was a bit too obvious. I was also confused why the “evil deaths” video effects didn’t match. It might also be fun to see them dragged offstage feet first, screaming and clawing at the air as a homage to scenes in the movie.
The ghosts in the ensemble could use a bit more liveliness. Give the audience some fun, quirky characters to watch, especially since they are serving as the comic relief. Some of the spirits have had decades to go a little squirrelly. Physical elements, such as giving Orlando a strut that Oda Mae can mimic, would add a visual element to the characters and to the possession.
The biggest disappointment for me was the choreography by Ashley Warren. Boring, confused, repetitive and under-polished, I believe I saw the same combination result in a dancer collision in both acts. At times it looked like the ensemble of “Fame” dancing in the streets with no relationship to the story line of GHOST. Choreographing for the stage is a different animal than for music videos and commercials. For being set in modern day, the costumes didn’t really help in establishing the time period.
Overall an uneven production that will benefit from two weeks in the same venue. Cleaning up the timing and technical problems should be a priority. The cast has worked hard to get GHOST on the road. Now they need to start having fun with it. Fans of the movie should find enough nostalgia for an enjoyable evening. Also be prepared to have “Unchained Melody” stuck in your head for the next week. 🙂
Click here for a complete list of show times for GHOST THE MUSICAL.
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