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When you first saw the 1990 afterlife romantic-comedy thriller Ghost, did you think: “This needs songs! Like a number for a ghost telling the Swayze character, ‘You gotta let go.’ And a mopey power ballad every time the Demi girl looks sad without her man and her pottery wheel”?
Did you also muse, “This needs to be redone with live actors shuffling around scrims filled with constantly swirling video images–you know, sort of like a movie?”
If so, you’ll love the Matthew Warchus production of Ghost: The Musical, which is Ghost the Movie, but more so–more emoting, more screaming, and way more scenery.
The sets and projections are amazingly conceived and executed, but they’re so relentless, they come to overwhelm the material, which needed a gentler touch. I mean this is an afterlife romantic-comedy thriller, not The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.
(And at the press performance I was at last Thursday night, the show had to be stopped for 15 minutes to fix a set problem. That’s what happens when high-tech is the star of the evening at the expense of everything else.)
Big-voiced Caissie Levy and big-chested Richard Fleeshman serve earnestness as the universe-discordant couple, while Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Oda Mae–the run-down fake psychic who strikes gold when she connects with Fleeshman’s talking corpse–plays it extra rough and emphatic, coming off more Mo’Nique than Whoopi.
A real spark plug, Randolph pushes too hard, but at least she’s lively and gets the laughs. But after scoring in her big account-closing scene, she gets another “huh?” number that doesn’t let her soar into the moment.
In fact, all the songs–by rocker Dave Stewart and Glenn Ballard, with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, who wrote the movie–come off serviceable but unnecessary.
So for all its sleek determination, Ghost doesn’t prove the right to an afterlife for this material. And can you imagine that Con Ed bill when the set works?