Theatre Review: GHOST THE MUSICAL – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Niall Sheehy as Sam and Rebekah Lowings as Molly in GHOST THE MUSICAL.

Niall Sheehy as Sam and Rebekah Lowings as Molly in GHOST THE MUSICAL. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Translating well from film to stage, GHOST THE MUSICAL remains true to the original but falters in its musical numbers

3.5 out of 5 stars

Few films are as much loved as GHOST. Released in 1990, the Oscar-winning love story is classed as one of cinema’s biggest all-time hits, becoming the highest grossing film of the year and winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin an Oscar for his efforts. Now, the timeless love story – which has been made into a musical – heads out on a new UK tour for 2019.

Based on the hit film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, GHOST tells the story of Sam Wheat and Molly Jenson, who are mugged one night whilst walking back to their apartment, leaving Sam murdered on a dark street. Trapped as a ghost between this world and the next, Sam must work alongside phoney psychic, Oda Mae Brown, to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger.

Bill Kenwright’s latest touring production boasts a number of changes from previous incarnations of the show, including a refreshed telling of the central story and some new music by Bruce Joel Rubin, Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard. Director Bob Tomson strips the production right back, scrapping the video effects and celebrity casting to deliver a show with proper staging and performers who can deliver.

Jules Brown (Willie), Niall Sheehy (Sam) and Rebekah Lowings (Molly) in GHOST THE MUSICAL

Jules Brown, Niall Sheehy & Rebekah Lowings in GHOST THE MUSICAL. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Much of the show’s success lies in Mark Bailey’s innovative set and Nick Richings clever lighting design, which combine not only to allow Sam to appear ‘ghost-like’ but also to recreate famous scenes from the movie, like when Sam is levitated and thrown from a moving subway train by a fellow ghost.

Niall Sheehy makes for a likeable Sam, the role originally played by Patrick Swayze in the film. His strong vocal performance comes into its own in the softer, quieter numbers such as UNCHAINED MELODY and his voice blends perfectly with that of Rebekah Lowings, who is equally excellent in the role of Molly, to create some gorgeous vocal harmonies.

Elsewhere, there is strong support from Sergio Pasquriello as snaky friend Carl, while Jacqui Dubois steals the show, providing some much needed comic relief in her hilarious yet touching performance as Oda Mae Brown.

Jacqui DuBois as Oda in GHOST THE MUSICAL

Jacqui DuBois as Oda in GHOST THE MUSICAL. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith Photography

GHOST THE MUSICAL isn’t without its flaws, however, the show mostly faltering in the musical numbers. Whilst the songs themselves are perfectly enjoyable, they are ultimately forgettable, lacking the usual hook or melody which has you humming as you leave the theatre.

A few sound issues on the night also meant that the band, led by the very capable Leigh Thompson, occasionally overpowered the vocals on stage, lessening the impact of some of the more dramatic numbers like SUSPEND MY DISBELIEF/I HAD A LIFE and LIFE TURNS ON A DIME.

That said, GHOST THE MUSICAL translates extremely well from film to stage and on the whole, remains true to the original. It’s beautiful and emotional finale also means that you’re more than likely to leave the theatre with a tear in your eye.

GHOST THE MUSICAL runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 20 April 2019