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Ghost: The Musical @ The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

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by Katie Thompson (subscribe)
University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel. Blog: twotwothompson.wordpress.com/ Published work can be seen at www.theyorker.co.uk and www.yorkvision.co.uk
Event: -
See the classic on Broadway before it's too late


It's hard not to have an unbiased opinion about Ghost: the Musical, being such a loyal fan of the big screen original. However, Bruce Joel Robin's adaptation of the smash hit movie was every bit as tear-jerking and hard-hitting as the original, if not without its fair share of camp musical numbers and cheesy dialogue as with any Broadway show.

Suffice to say director Matthew Warchus exercised his right to artistic licence, casting long, wavy-haired blonde Caissie Levy in the role of Molly Jensen, and making subtle tweaks in some of the film's most memorable scenes. Warchus teases the crowd in the first act, for example, by having Richard Fleeshman's Sam pick up a guitar and serenade Levy with the Righteous Brothers classic Unchained Melody. Thankfully however, the show remains faithful to the original and plays out the iconic claypot scene later on in Act One.

The show boasts a versatile cast, with Bryce Pinkham truly standing out in his role as the villainous Carl Bruner, effortlessly capturing the pure evil of Tony Goldwyn's on-screen original, while bringing an even stronger vulnerability to the role. Broadway newcomer Da'vine Joy Randolph also proved she belonged on stage as she won the heart of the crowd almost immediately. Her no-nonsense, brash and comical interpretation of Oda Mae Brown was energetic but sometimes overplayed during what should have been more subtle, tender moments. Levy and Fleeshman also earned their stripes as main characters and tragic lovers Molly and Sam, though it was their singing voices which really carried their performances.

In terms of the quality of the songs, Bruce Joel Robin has made a valiant effort in intertwining the original story of two lovers torn apart by an untimely death with dramatic musical numbers. That said, while ballads such as 'With You' really pull at the heartstrings, there are a couple which seem to serve only as fillers rather than stir the narrative, such as Act One's 'Three Little Words', which plays on the 'ditto' gimmick of the original film for a little too long.

Slightly cringe-worthy soundtracks aside, the real star of the show was its unstoppable special effects, which are said to have impressed even the likes of David Copperfield. Fleeshman's interaction with the ghost on the train while they try to move seemingly untouchable objects is nigh-on unbelievable, as is the sudden appearance of Carl's corpse as Pinkham leaps out of his dead body and stares back at himself in the blink of an eye. Coupled with the effortlessly fluid set changes and the ambitious but rewarding use of a projector screen for the show's most poignant moments, Ghost: The Musical makes for a truly stunning visual.

After a comfortable two hours of laughter and tears, we have to give Fleeshman his due for doing the late great Patrick Swayze such justice in his portrayal of Sam Wheat, the innocent city banker who lost his life at the hands of a disloyal friend and money-hungry criminal. While certain scenes in Act One seemed a little rushed, such as Sam's mugging and untimely death, ultimately the play salvages itself with its climactic finale and tearful final goodbye between Fleeshman and Levy. Warchus may have bordered on cheesy rather than sincere with his portrayal of the two lovers, but as a group, Ghost: The Musical boasts a wonderful cast, and truly benefits from not just from the emotion that we hear, but the beauty that we see.
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Why? To catch the last performance of this classic on Broadway
Where: 205 West 46th Street New York
Cost: $25
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