Ghost The Musical – Review – Sheffield Lyceum
By @Steve Crabtree, January 2019
If you’ve never seen the film Ghost, it’s likely you’ve been living under a rock for the last 29 years. Well, I hold my hands up and admit that I crawled out from under mine to see the musical version as it landed at Sheffield’s wonderful Lyceum Theatre this week.
That’s right – I’ve never seen the film. So, unlike most of the excited crowd in South Yorkshire, I’m seeing something brand new and fresh. But everyone seems to love Ghost, and I need to see what it’s all about.
“Emotion and desperation”
As the curtain goes up, we’re introduced to Sam, Molly and their friend Carl. We’re in the shell of the couple’s new apartment, and despite the film being a 1990 classic, we’re quick to find out that this version is set in the here and now. The three of them posing for a selfie on a smartphone within minutes of the opening scene. Maybe you can do that with such a timeless classic.
Niall Sheehy took the role of Sam, and conveys the emotion and desperation of the character really well. I was expecting Sam to be a cooler character though (it’s a Patrick Swayze role after all). But Sheehy and Rebekah Lowings, playing Molly were perfect foil for each other. They share a definite, believable chemistry.
I think that the vulnerable and heartbroken Molly was played with aplomb by Lowings. As Ghost The Musical unfolds, it’s clear the person in charge of casting got their job right.
By not knowing how (and sometimes which) character dies, I’m at first confused as I see Sam chasing his gunman across the stage. Where’s the fake blood? Have they forgotten about it? Who actually got shot? And then it clicks what’s happening. I’m amazed that I missed the dead body appearing on stage, but in the same breath found the way they’d done this to be very clever. And it wasn’t the last clever bit of the production either.
In a fast moving performance, Jacqui Dubois’ portrayal of Oda Mae brings the house down on more than one occasion. By nature of the Whoopi Goldberg character, she steals the show time after time with superb quip-delivery and physical comedy. The facial-expression fests, and her execution of the bank scene was worth the entrance money alone.
My friend who was with me said that Ghost The Musical has been kept true to the film version. She did query how it would translate to the stage, but she offered it high praise too. It worked. Perhaps it’s strong because it’s a musical which isn’t saturated with numbers.
Early enough in the first act we get the first rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’. It wasn’t as emotionally charged at the beginning as it was when we heard it in the second act. Other songs such as ‘Three Little Words’ sit in the performance nicely. The quality of the writing, the acting and the storyline means the balance of the musical aspect is just right.
I must add, Rebekah Lowings has a stunning voice. She grips you at times.
The multi-layered set is impressive; be it the minimalist apartment or the subway. And I have to say the way the journey to heaven or hell is done, and lit on stage is amazing. There’s a few nice tricks in Ghost The Musical too, subtle illusions to enhance the power in the after-life.
But above all, it was the final scene which proved to be the memorable one for me. It was beautiful. Really well written and performed. Rebekah Lowing, Niall Sheehy and Jacqui De Bois shroudeding us watching with a blanket of emotion. I definitely heard a few sniffles from the people around me, and I myself could have sobbed a little bit at the end.
I think Ghost The Musical is so good. It’s a strong, enjoyable show. I’m glad I didn’t know very much about the storyline before I arrived. However, even if I’d seen it countless times, I don’t think I’d have left the Lyceum Theatre disappointed.