Every West End musical has its lovers and haters, but although it’s impossible to please everyone, they will usually always have their own dedicated band of fans that stay loyal to the show through anything – even closure. When it was announced that Ghost The Musical was to close at the Piccadilly Theatre after a West End run of 15 months, the news devastated the zealous fan base it had accrued. They were soon appeased somewhat by the following news that the show wasn’t about to become a ghost itself, but instead was going to be given new life in a new national touring production.
The Ghost tour was launched in Cardiff last night (Wednesday 10th April) at the Wales Millennium Centre. Leading the all-new cast is Stewart Clarke and Rebecca Trehearn as lovers Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen, who are torn apart when Sam is killed during a mugging. Wendy Mae Brown also stars as the psychic Oda Mae Brown who communicates with Sam’s ghost, with David Roberts playing Carl Bruner, Sam’s best friend who actually turns out to be the bad guy. Ivan De Freitas plays murderer Willie Lopez, Stevie Hutchinson the Subway Ghost and Karlene Wray and Keisha Atwell the sisters of Oda Mae (Clara and Louise). The ensemble features Maeve Byrne, Michael Cortez, Kimmy Edwards, Jaye Elster, Livvy Evans, Gabriela Garcia, Nick Hayes, Bradley Jaden, Robert Knight, Gregor Stewart, Michael Stewart, Amy Webb, Amy West and Luke Wilson.
The tour’s opening night seems to have gone down as a great success, despite a few technical problems which saw the show stopped several times. The audience was a mixture of Welsh locals, first-timers to the show and travelling fans of the West End production, with the majority vote being a great big thumbs-up for Ghost The Musical – on tour. Fans on twitter had some particularly glowing praise for the show:
‘Quote lady sat in front, “it’s like watching a film in real life!” Well done everyone!!’
‘Overall, @ghostontour was quite different to London but was just as incredible and will be amazing audiences until it’s final show! #Believe’
‘Heartbroken. I am in love with @ghostontour take me back’
‘Despite the technical hitch, @ghostontour did not disappoint. Absolutely stunning.’
There were even good luck messages from the West End production’s former stars, Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy, who took the show to Broadway last year.
Ghost the Musical is adapted from the Oscar Award-winning 1990 film which starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. It is a classic love story which sees the murdered Sam trapped between this world and the next, having never had the chance to tell Molly he loves her. When he learns that Molly’s life is in danger, he enlists the help of phony physic Oda Mae Brown to save her. The film’s original scriptwriter, Bruce Joel Rubin, penned the stage-adaption, directed by Matthew Warchus and featuring illusions by Paul Kieve. The musical was acclaimed for its amazing special effects, which superbly handled the technical challenges of believably presenting Sam as a ghostly presence.
Ghost the Musical runs at the Wales Millennium Centre until 27th April 2013 before setting off on the next leg of its tour, which sees it return to London at the New Wimbledon Theatre (30th April-11th May 2013). The show will then visit Edinburgh, Wolverhampton, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Southampton, Woking and Sunderland, ending the tour at the New Alexander Theatre in Birmingham on 5th January 2014.
There has been speculation that the show may return to the West End following the tour – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a production has done so. There has been no official word that this is being planned however. For the meanwhile, all the Ghost fans can do is ‘believe’.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 11th April 2013