Bristol Hippodrome

 

Ghost - September 2016

Ghost reappears on stage

In 1990, the late Patrick Swayze and his on-screen romance Demi Moore broke and mended our hearts through a sensitive story of life and death, good and evil.

Ghost won two Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, and has gone on go be one of the most iconic movies of our time.

Now, in 2016, director Bob Tomson has allowed us to relive the betrayal, murder, love and forgiveness of the original hit film with an entirely new and immersive cast.

The story tells us of a New York couple, both of whom are totally in love and have recently moved into a Brooklyn loft to start a life together.

Sam Wheat, played by Hollyoaks star Andy Moss, is a Wall Street banker who is immersed in the electrifying, pre-millennial financial uprising of New York City and is doing well in his job with the help of his pal Carl.

His sweet girlfriend, Molly Jenkins, is played by Sarah Harding, a Girls Aloud band member made famous by reality show Pop Stars The Rivals in 2008.  

When Sam is murdered as a result of a greedy, elaborate plan set up by Carl (played by Sam Ferriday) his purgatorial journey begins, with a focus on saving Molly from harm as Carl attempts to steal from Sam’s business accounts.

It is only with the reluctant assistance of a hilarious downtown psychic Oda Mae Brown (played by Jacqui Dubois) that Sam is able to ensure the safety of his loved one and bring about justice to those who have wronged him.

It is difficult to watch Ghost on stage without directly comparing it to the film.

But it became apparent early on that these comparisons were entirely welcomed. Some of the dialogue, especially that of Oda Mae (originally played by Whoopie Goldberg) was identical to the originally screen play.

This seemed to resonate well with the audience, who laughed at all the old lines and jokes with a sense of warm familiarity.

There were a couple of scenes that particularly stood out during this dramatic story.

However, none of them featured the two main characters.

In fact, the man who really stole the show goes by the character name Ghost In Hospital played by James Earl Adair.

This slightly greying, cheerful chap appeared as one of the first ghosts Sam meets after his death.

Not only does he give Sam an education on what to expect from the bizarre afterlife he’d found himself in, but sang a fantastic country-and-western song titled You Gotta Let Go Now.

It's a shame we didn't see more of him, given that the main cast could barely reach any of the top notes in their allocated songs.

Saying that, Jacqui Dubois as Oda Mae brought the house down with her powerful, gospel numbers and Goldberg-esq quick wit.

Sarah Harding, on the other hand, comes across as an amateur actress with absolutely no training or discipline in her chosen subject.

After recovering from a bout of ‘respiratory problems’ which forced her offstage for a week following her first set of reviews, she gave the role her best second-shot.

The problem is that in our minds she's up against Demi Moore, and it takes an actress with extensive experience to take on such strong pre-existing audience expectations.

Harding might fit neatly into a manufactured girl-group that appear to rely heavily on auto-tune and post-editing sound equipment, but her voice couldn't hold the song With You, which was disappointing given its popularity.

I was hoping that the special effects would compensate for the apparent lack of on-stage charisma, and there were undoubtedly some impressive stunts midway through the performance.

One of the most intriguing was during the ‘subway scene’, where Sam meets a ghost played by Garry Lee Netley.

This ghost has the unique ability to fling any object around the place in one angry arm movement, including commuters!

It was hardly a ‘how did they do it?’ moment, but still pleasing and interesting to watch.

For me, there were some hidden stars that deserve recognition.

The first is Glen Ballard.

Glen is the brain and soul behind the music and lyrics.

He has won six Grammy awards and brought together the perfect musical juxtaposition, illustrating the morbid yet beautiful contrasts between life and death.

The second is Marie Anne Bruccheri.

Never heard of her?

Well, she's never appeared in Hollyoaks or Pop Stars, but she is, in fact, the chief violinist in the orchestra.

Listening to her rendition of Unchained Melody was an experience in itself, and while she and the rest of the orchestra sat in the darkness during the finale, they may have received the biggest applause of the night.

There's no doubt that this production has potential, but the audience seemed to leave feeling both uplifted by one character, and let down by another.

While I completely understand the joy of visiting a theatre and watching an iconic storyline like Ghost with a groups of Swayze-loving friends, I do believe that to pull off something better than (or even as good as) the original film, it takes a lot more talent than we saw this time around.

Ghost will be at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, September 17.

Emma Rowlands

  • Three years ago Ghost played the Bristol Hippodrome - to read that review click HERE

Girls Aloud singer stars in Ghost

PREVIEW: Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding will make her stage debut this autumn in Bill Kenwright’s new production of the timeless story of love, despair and hope Ghost the musical.

She will star as Molly opposite Andy Moss, best known for starring as Rhys Ashworth in Channel 4's Hollyoaks ,as Sam.

Taking its inspiration from the classic movie, this innovative re-imagining will feature an expanded book, new music and original staging.

The show is touring the UK this autumn arriving at the Bristol Hippodrome for one week from Monday to Saturday, September 12-17.

For more than 10 years Sarah was part of one of the most successful pop acts in UK history.

With 20 consecutive Top 10 singles, including four number 1 hits Girls Aloud received five Brit award nominations and became the first girl group since the Spice Girls to achieve six consecutive top three singles.

Sarah’s acting credits include Bad Day, Freefall, Run For Your Wife, Coronation Street and St Trinians 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be making my theatre debut in Ghost - The Musical.

“The film is one of my all-time favourites, so to get the opportunity to play Molly in Bill Kenwright’s new production is a huge honour for me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Andy is best-known for his soap role but his credits also include Cutting It, Coronation Street and most recently he appeared as Paul Cuthbert in the long running BBC soap opera Doctors.

The double academy award winning movie is a huge success story, both critically and at the box office, where it was the highest grossing film in the year of its release. It starred the late Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg and was directed by Jerry Zucker.

It tells the story of the Sam and Molly walking back to their apartment late one night when a tragic encounter sees Sam murdered and his beloved girlfriend Molly alone, in despair and utterly lost.

But with the help of a phony store front psychic Sam, trapped between this world and the next, tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger…

Tickets from £14.90 with concessions available by clicking HERE.

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