Review: Ghost the Musical a classic tale of love and loss

Wendy Mae Brown, Rob Mills and Jemma Rix as Oda Mae, Sam and Molly in Ghost the Musical.
Wendy Mae Brown, Rob Mills and Jemma Rix as Oda Mae, Sam and Molly in Ghost the Musical.

THE first 12 or so minutes of Ghost the Musical truly set the scene beautifully.

From flying through black and white modern-day New York City streetscape projections to snapshots of deliriously happy couple Sam and Molly, the production instils an ‘ideal’ relationship full of love, where you can imagine their blissful future with “days and months and years to treasure”.

Sam doesn’t want that bubble to burst, but those who have seen the 1990 film the production is based on, know tragedy awaits when a mugging goes wrong.

Rob Mills stretches his acting skills in the role of Sam Wheat with great success, on stage for most of the production and anchoring it with conviction and heart.

His tortured reprise of Unchained Melody is one of many moments sure to make mascara run.

Jemma Rix is clearly relishing the opportunity to set Wicked’s Elphaba aside for Molly Jensen, finding the perfect balance of strength, sadness and grief.

British performer Wendy Mae Brown (yes, that’s her real name) as psychic Oda Mae Brown is a sassy woman with a whole lot of attitude, who definitely knows how to make an entrance.

Special mention should also be made of subway ghost David Denis, plus Lydia Warr and Evette Marie White, direct from the US, who play sisters Clara and Louise to comedy perfection.

David Roberts as Sam’s best friend Carl Bruner is deplorably good as the story’s villain.

‘Ditto’ and song Unchained Melody have the much-loved recurring presence and fans of the film will find comfort in many familiar lines thanks to the film’s scriptwriter Bruce Joel Rubin working on the production’s book and lyrics.

His 13 new pop-rock style songs, with music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard are like a breath of fresh air.

And that pottery wheel does make an appearance.

Advances in technology have only made this musical possible in recent years (it premiered in Manchester in 2011 before transferring to the West End and then Broadway) with the large-scale screen projections, special effects and lighting design essential to its onstage triumph.

Ghost the Musical is a classic tale of love and loss.

Let this story of Sam and Molly wash over you, while the moving final scene springs a tear or two, or ten.

Reviewed during Ghost the Musical’s Melbourne season. Showing at Crown Theatre Perth, May 21 to June 12.

Tanya MacNaughton