Festival Theatre Edinburgh (venue)
26 February 2019 (released)
27 February 2019
It was hankies to the ready at the Edinburgh opening night of Ghost The Musical, principally based on the 1990 Hollywood blockbuster starring Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze though for this stage production, some surprises and updates have been thrown in for good measure.
If you don’t know the story of Ghost then you must have lived under a rock for the past three decades and even if – for some unlikely reason – you still haven’t seen the film then surely you must be aware of one particular tune forever associated with it: ‘Unchained Melody’ by The Righteous Brothers found an unexpected revival and the song was played up and down the country for weeks (though it would be fair to assume the world over) after the movie’s release! Who could forget the scene during which Demi and Patrick indulge in a fair bit of hanky-panky at her potters wheel, all the while “Oh my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch” can be heard in the background.
Well then, the musical kicks off in similar fashion with lovebirds Molly (Demi Moore-lookalike Rebekah Lowings), a sculptor and potter, and Sam (Niall Sheehy), a banker, moving into their new loft apartment in Brooklyn (Manhattan is too expensive) and the first song ‘Right here right now’ is performed. Sam’s colleague Carl (Sergio Pasquariello), who also happens to be a close friend of the couple and visits them on numerous occasions, helps them with the move. He then leaves the lovebirds to themselves and soon the situation gets slightly tense as Sam seems to shy away from uttering “I love you” which rather irritates Molly. To make up for possible misunderstandings he delivers a heartfelt rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’ on his guitar, with a few Elvis moves thrown it. This is followed by the famous scene on the potters wheel. Though be warned: the real tear-jerking version of the song will come up in Act 2.
After a night out and on the way home, Sam and Molly are approached by an armed man who demands Sam’s wallet. In the ensuing struggle a shot is heard and Sam slumps to the ground, fatally wounded. While Molly screams for help and passers-by offer precisely that, we see the ghost of Sam standing next to his dead body – caught in a twilight world between life and death. Later on in the clinic, the Hospital Ghost (James Earl Adair) tries to persuade Sam with a catchy number that ‘You Gotta Let Go Now’. But Sam won’t.
Over the next few days it transpires that the killer, one Willie Lopez (Jules Brown), is in fact in cahoots with Carl (who is laundering money for drug dealers) and it was Carl who orchestrated his apparently best pal’s murder. Reason being? He needs to gain access to the apartment in order to get to Sam’s professional notebook containing passwords, so Carl can safely transfer money into a single account belonging to the fictitious ‘Rita Miller’. Unaware of it all, the ghost of Sam tries to warn Molly of the danger that Carl represents (he even sends Willie to Molly’s apartment to try and steal Sam’s notebook) but of course, Molly can’t hear Sam neither can she see him. Help is at hand when Sam seeks the help of a fake medium called Oda Mae Brown (an absolute hoot: Jacqui Dubois) who is conning her customers into making them believe that she can connect with the dead. We are introduced to Oda’s world via the highly energetic gospel-style number ‘Are You A Believer?’ (performed by Jacqui Dubois, Sadie-Jean Shirley and Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy) though to Oda’s near shock, she can really hear Sam (who winds her up to help him, by singing ’10,000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’). Reluctantly she agrees to travel to Brooklyn and deliver a message from Sam to Molly… Of course we all know how it ends: the bad ones go to hell and the good ones (in this case Sam) go to heaven…
In between we have fab choreography, drama, heartache, comedy, unforgettable songs, courtesy of Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard (‘Life Turns on A Dime’, ‘Nothing Stops Another Day’, ‘I’m Outa Here’) and an inspired set by Mark Bailey. Particularly impressing is the underworld subway in which the Underground Ghost (Lovonne Richards) resides. Ace performances all round and both Jacqui Dubois as well as Rebekah Lowing have voices to die for (bad pun, I know).
GHOST – THE MUSICAL runs until Sat 2nd March (www.capitaltheatres.com)
(Photo by Pamela Raith)