Ghost the Musical | Peabody Opera House

Ghost-the-Musical 75The show progresses so quickly that by the time the last scene came around, I was devastated at the realization that it was already over.

Ghost-the-Musical 500

I could not help but to enter Ghost the Musical with low expectations. If you are at all familiar with the movie of the same name from which this production is based, you’ll wonder ‘how are they going to pull this off live? Flying is one thing, but showcasing a ghost who is capable of passing through doors and bodies? – I just didn’t know.

However, as I’m constantly reminded, I should not question the magic of theater. Our ghost Sam Wheat (Steven Grant Douglas) does pass through doors and, with a perfectly timed swoosh sound effect, seemingly through people. He even learns to levitate objects without flaw. Of the theater productions that I’ve seen so far this year, I must say that I have been most pleasantly surprised by Ghost the Musical, and it has easily been the most breathtaking.

With music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, and book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, Ghost begins almost immediately with “Here Right Now” as we are introduced to couple Sam and Molly Jenson. Sam is a banker, and Molly is an artist. They are very much in love and the physical attraction and passion between them is palpable. The melody of “Here Right Now” is incorporated ever so subtlety throughout the play (as is the melody and lyrics of “Unchained Melody”), and it is a beautiful song about living in the moment in a state of absolute, embraced bliss.

Carl Bruner (Robby Haltiwanger) is introduced with the couple and is portrayed as a third wheel, verging on interruptive presence in Sam and Molly’s relationship. He’s a good friend and co-worker of Sam’s who is especially eager – unsettlingly so – to help the couple in any way he can. His song “More” parallels “Here Right Now,” except “More” is about living and excelling in “the numbers game” of a money driven world.

Despite the genuine connection between Sam and Molly, a point of contention addressed early on in the production is his unwillingness to return Molly’s ‘I love you’s,’ responding instead with “ditto.” He swoons her in these moments with a playful version of “Unchained Melody” and through the song “Three Little Words,” in which he insists “I say it with my eyes when I hold you close at night when I make scrambled eggs, when I tell you silly jokes.” It’s a tad corny, but playful, lovely, and affectionate. At this moment, when your heart is beaming in the presence of their love, the couple is approached by a thief. A gunshot is heard, and we see Sam jump up from the ground … except Molly is still hovering over his body – a body switch so fast that you don’t question it for a second. This is hardly a spoiler. Familiar with the movie or not, you know that this moment has been coming, and as Molly screams for help and Sam’s spirit runs around in confusion, your heart is breaking. Bring your tissues folks, the heartache only gets worse from here.

The scene changes and we are now in a hospital with Sam, who encounters some fellow spirits. They explain that he’s not in Heaven or Hell, but stuck in between, waiting. He struggles to accept his young death, but soon realizes that he cannot wallow in his own absence because he has to protect Molly from the man who killed him. He elicits the help of Oda Mae Brown (Carla R. Stewart), a psychic who despite being a fraud, actually does have the power to hear Sam, though she cannot see him. Oda Mae is the much-needed comic relief of this production and her fear of Sam mixed with her inflection-coated sassiness will help you laugh through your tears. As marvelous as Molly and Sam’s characters are, Stewart’s portrayal of Oda Mae makes her the star of this show.

The use of video backdrop and tricks of light in this show sets this production apart from older shows, while creating seamless transitions between scenes. Although the majority of the songs in the show are slow, power ballads, the show progresses so quickly that by the time the last scene came around, I was devastated at the realization that it was already over. The characters are all so likeable and well-portrayed that I wanted to spend more time with each of them. Only show complaint: unnecessary ensemble dancing. The ensemble lacks personality and purpose, consistently distracting from the main singer(s) on stage.

Regardless, I have not stopped thinking about this production and doubt it’s one I’ll ever forget. The love story is timeless, but that does not mean that you should wait around to see it. Don’t miss this! | Megan Washausen

Ghost the Musical runs through March 30.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply