Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 12, 2014

Ghost-The Musical

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through June 15, 2014
By R.E. Smith

For a story about intimate connections and lost love, “Ghost-The Musical’s deepest impact comes courtesy of its grand, broad, cutting edge visual gestures. For instance, as befits a musical whose source material is a movie, “Ghost” features its own opening credits sequence.

With book by original screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, Sam and Molly are young, successful and in love, until tragedy strikes (see the title). Sam must bring closure to his life and their love, while protecting Molly and dealing with his initially powerless state.

Like another recent movie-inspired musical, “Flashdance,” “Ghost” relies on high definition video projection and intense lighting to create a show that is part play, part rock concert. Unlike that show, the effects are used for more than just scenery. Unique stage magic tricks and creative blocking serve to create an otherworldly environment in a surprisingly organic way. A subway sequence is especially cinematic; combining fast paced set changes with unique physical movement, shifting perspective at lighting speed.

The choreography by Ashley Wallen, too, is inventive and unique, ably served by the ensemble. Slow motion, freeze frames, and fast reversals of direction serve to underscore the ebb and flow of the rhythms of life.

The creators have wisely chosen not cast doppelgangers for the film’s original stars, and letting the performers bring more original portrayals of tenderness and longing. The role of suddenly relevant psychic Oda Mae Brown could easily go over the top, but Carla R. Stewart plays the comedy with a deft and realistic touch. Her big production number “I’m Outta Here,” as well as Katie Postotnik’s (Molly) plaintive “With You” were stand outs among the rock/pop score.

Iconic moments from the film, such as the pottery wheel and “Unchained Melody” are present, but woven in more subtly than one would have expected. This helps to make “Ghost-The Musical” a unique companion to the film. The sights and sounds will wow your senses, but the story will still touch your heart.