Ghost the Musical

  • Date:
    April 1, 2012
    Review by:
    Tulis McCall

    Synopsis: Boy and girl are in love. Sam (Richard Fleeshman) works in finance. Mollie (Caissie Levy) is a sculptor. They move into a loft together. Time passes. They are still in love. They go out one night and Sam is attacked. He dies. They are still in love. Sam comes back as a – you guessed it – GHOST and discovers that his death was not an accident. It was planned, and now Molly’s life is in danger as well. Sam does everything he can to warn Molly, whom he still loves you see, but nothing works. No one can see or hear him. He stumbles upon a psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), who has more or less been pulling the wool over people’s eyes for a long, long time, but for some reason Oda Mae hears Sam. They team up to contact Molly who believes what is happening and then doesn’t, even though she and Sam are still in love. Sam teams up with Oda Mae for a sting and the bad guy gets outed, which brings Molly back on board with the whole deal. Sam comes back to Molly one last time, using Oda Mae’s body as a conduit. They dance, they kiss, he leaves. They are still in love.

    Woven into this story are some mediocre songs that, with the exception of Oda Mae’s numbers, all sound alike. There is a lot of volume and a lot of vocal embellishment and a lot of singers standing down stage center who sing their hearts out. There is also a lot of dancing by people who look as though they could really handle some good choreography, were it ever to come their way, but there is no danger of that happening in this show.

    But what there is the most of is special effects. There are moving walkways; floating fire escapes; entire subway systems; animated city dwellers; bodies that rise and fall and vanish; material objects through which characters can pass their hands; death scenes that separate a characters’ spirits from their bodies; bobbing concert lighting pointed at the audience (seriously unpleasant); hologram-ish projections of what Superman might see on a night flight through Manhattan; spirits being exiled to certain damnation.

    In the presence of all this noise and action, any connection to these two star crossed lovers is left far behind. There is more passion in the Ice Capades than there is here. Not because the actors are not trying, but because they are drowned out by the combination of a book and music that are banal and special effects that border on the pyrotechnical. The only character that seems to push through and connect with us is Randolph as Oda Mae Brown. Her appearance lights up the stage as only an actor can, and she is a welcome relief.

    If you are a female between the ages of 12 and 20 this show is for you, because you will have the innocence and energy to pick through the detritus and pull out a love story. It has some razzle, a little dazzle, kissing, mystery, betrayal, sulking and pining: everything a young, very young, woman would want. In short, this comes as close to being a romantic movie fantasy as it possible can.

    Oh. I forgot. It was! Well, that would explain everything.

    Note: there is a moment of irony in the final moments of this play where the two women are isolated in an embrace on a bare stage. It is the only uncluttered scene in the entire show, and it speaks volumes.

    "Thrill-free singing theme-park ride."
    Charles Isherwood for NY Times

    "Without eye-popping tricks, the show offers zip in the way of wonder."
    Joe Dziemianowicz for NY Daily News

    "The turgid score doesn’t boast a single decent hook."
    Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post

    "The plethora of visual excitement makes it difficult for the actors to display any authenticity."
    Suzy Evans for Back Stage

    "A loud, rudderless, hyper-kinetic, drearily cast production – with bad songs"
    Robert Feldberg for The Record

    "As a technical achievement, 'Ghost The Musical' raises the bar to new heights. As a Broadway show, it falls decidedly short."
    Roma Torre for NY1

    "The sentimental nature of the fantasy is eclipsed somewhat by the elaborate technological firepower on display but the aggressive results are likely to appeal to audiences who like their musicals big and booming."
    Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

    "A flavorless hash that is unrelentingly loud, vulgar and stunningly tone-deaf."
    David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter

    "A lumbering megatuner with little to offer beyond a limitless array of dazzling effects."
    Steven Suskin for Variety

    New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Back Stage - The Record -Newsroom Jersey - Hollywood Reporter - Variety