Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Saturday, 6 February 2016
Ghost The Musical, Feb 6 2016 ****
Book & Lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, Music & Lyrics by
Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard
Based on the 1990 movie, Ghost, by Bruce Joel Rubin Regent
Theatre, Melbourne, until March 13, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ****
Rob Mills & Jemma Rix
a spectacular display of technical wizardry, tear-jerking songs and tragic
romance, Ghost The Musical exploded onto the stage at the Regent Theatre last
night to an enthusiastic, opening night crowd.
Joel Rubin’s book is a theatrical re-imagining of his Oscar-winning screenplay
for the 1990 movie, Ghost, but it is Matthew Warchus’ inventive direction that
makes this production remarkable by bringing together comic and tragic narrative
threads, characters, original songs and startling illusions.
fantasy romance set in New York City, explores the powerful emotional
connection that links lovers, Sam Wheat (Rob Mills), a banker, and Molly Jensen
(Jemma Rix), a sculptor, even after Sam’s death.
a romantic dinner, Sam and Molly are mugged and Sam dies of his injuries but he
remains caught in the netherworld between life and afterlife trying to
communicate the truth about his murder to the grieving Molly.
Stewart (of Eurythmics’ fame) and Glen Ballard’s songs reveal the characters’
inner worlds in a repertoire of styles ranging from power ballads to pop and
rock, blues, soul and gospel, all played by a tight, seven-piece band.
Molly is a sincere, sympathetic character and Rix’s expressive voice, bright
timbre and impressive control and vocal range bring emotional depth to the
heart-wrenching song, With You, and to Suspend My Disbelief and Nothing Stops
voice blends enchantingly with Mills’ warm tones in memorable love duets
including Here Right Now, Three Little Words and their final reprise of Unchained
Melody (by Hy Zaret, Alex North), the song that featured in the movie’s famous
pottery wheel scene.
acoustic rendition of Unchained Melody is warmly playful but his delivery of I
Had A Life is impassioned and he packs a punch singing More, a tune about
financial greed, with David Roberts who plays Sam’s friend and colleague, Carl.
deftly captures the frenetic, addled banker, Carl, who is torn between his
friendship with Sam and Molly and his own foolhardiness and greed.
trio with Mills and Rix (Suspend My Disbelief/I Had a Life) is exceptional with
its soaring harmonies and three-part vocals and their second trio, Life Turns On
A Dime, is equally compelling.
you imagine a hybrid of Aretha Franklin and Whoopi Goldberg you have Wendy Mae
Brown with her big voice and impeccable comic delivery.
plays Oda Mae Brown (Yep, same name!), the con artist and unwilling psychic
through whom Sam communicates with Molly.
audience cheers after Brown’s songs, Are You A Believer and Talkin’ ‘Bout A
Miracle, but they go wild when she belts out the big soul number, I’m Outta
Here, engaging her bold voice and audacious sassiness, supported by the
vivacious chorus and funky choreography (Ashley Wallen).
Wendy Mae Brown & ensemble
Paul Kieve’s miraculous, visual trickery is gob-smacking, creating illusions of
ghosts passing through walls or floating in the air and objects flying through
Driscoll’s complex video projections, enhanced by Hugh Vanstone’s evocative
lighting, add another dimension that creates the streets of New York, train
stations and spirits vanishing in a vaporous cloud.
least successful elements in the show include a few less than dynamic songs, Mills’
limited expressive range in scenes when Sam must stand around merely watching and
waiting, and an occasional lack of chemistry between Sam and Molly.
may find this show to be schmaltzy and too much like a romantic chick flick,
but Ghost The Musical is faithful to the original movie while still creating a
satisfyingly innovative theatrical production. It’s a great date show!