Theatre Review: Ghost at King’s Theatre

Ghost – the Oscar-affiliated Bruce Joel Rubin movie that almost didn’t happen – has made its way onto stages around the UK in a spectacular, star-studded musical production, which – warning – is ten times more emotional with a live orchestra than on the big screen.

The lyrics Oh my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch are illuminated across the curtain of the Kings Theatre stage before the performance, taken from hit single ‘Unchained Melody’ originally made famous by the Righteous Brothers in 1965.

The song was resurrected in 1990 when it used as the backing track to one of Ghosts most iconic scenes from the film: Sam and Molly doing pottery in their new living room, just prior to his untimely demise at the hands of a burglar. It appears to have since been treated as the show’s main marketing motto; when played on stage, the audience faintly hum along.

The original movie starring the late Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg was a box office smash hit upon its release in 1990, raking in a staggering $500million worldwide and out-grossing every other movie that year. Not only did Goldberg win an Oscar for her role as the medium Oda Mae Brown, Demi Moore was catapulted into the position of most bankable and highest paid actress in the world following her role as the female lead Molly in Rubin’s production.

In 2011, Rubin’s heart-breaking tale of love and loss was reincarnated as a stage musical in London’s West End, transferring to Broadway the following year. It won acclaim for its powerful score which was composed by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and multi-award-winning songwriter Glen Ballard.

The current touring production uses an exquisitely fluid, brightly coloured and deeply modern set that utilises various interesting staging conventions, such as transparent set pieces and ultraviolet lighting. Scene changes between the dingy streets of Brooklyn, Sam and Molly’s aesthetically pleasing apartment, and the metropolitan office scene were quick effortless. Even trickier sequences involving body doubles were – overall – completely undetectable to the audience, as they need to be to create an out-of-body experience for the several dead characters Sam encounters in the afterlife.

Carolyn Maitland perfectly captures the very essence of grieving Molly, faultlessly depicting her character’s vulnerability, hopelessness and confusion in the face Sam’s untimely death. Her performance of With You, which tells of Molly’s inability to let go of the small things she loved about her life with Sam, was painfully beautiful and received the loudest approval from the audience.

Andy Moss, who is playing Maitland’s male counterpart Sam, did an extremely good job at conveying the frustrations of his character’s situation who, as well as dealing with being stuck in the afterlife, is processing the loss of his life-long friendship with Carl (Sam Ferriday) who ultimately planned his murder. However, while nailing most of the high notes, Moss’s singing was noticeably weak in areas, but both physically and theatrically he was perfect for the role of Sam.

Moss’s performance was highly emotionally charged, and he shared excellent rapport with Jacqui Dubois (Oda Mae). Together, their comedic timing and execution was sublime and, perhaps, the most enjoyable aspect of the production.

Ghost is running in the Kings Theatre until Saturday 1st April 2017. Tickets still available to buy here.

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