I see dead people or Criology VS Ghost

It’s been a while since I pos­ted any­thing, and although blam­ing Christ­mas mad­ness is usu­ally a safe thing to do, I some­how don’t believe it’s actu­ally true in this case. But that’s a dif­fer­ent story to which I’ll come back later this year.

If you’re com­ing from the homepage you may have noticed that fant­astic photo I used as post cover (not mine this time, I’m afraid). That is because I finally, and there’s no shame in say­ing it, went to watch Ghost — the one and only chick flick musical.

If this is the very first time you’ve ever heard of it, here is the offi­cial trailer. Also liv­ing in a cave is sooo 4000 BCE…

Any­way, based on the Hol­ly­wood clas­sic star­ring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Gold­wyn and Whoopi Gold­berg, Ghost is at least recog­nis­able, if not well known, by any­one from my and older gen­er­a­tion (does it sound like I’m 60?). As far as I remem­ber it was even nom­in­ated for an Academy Award back then. Plus I don’t think there’s any­one out there who hasn’t heard of Unchained Melody by Right­eous Broth­ers and if so, shame on you!

Do I like chick flicks? Some. I like to think of myself as male most of the time, so I have a cer­tain limit of them to watch in a row (music­als, not males) without a head­ache or a sui­cidal mood. What I do like a lot though are music­als, and that’s why I really wanted to see what makes Ghost so popular…

I was pleas­antly sur­prised with the crowds queuing in front of the theatre. I know that West End has always been occu­pied by masses, but it’s a nice reminder of Lon­don being nicer than all that douchebag­gery I see on a train every day and, more and more often, even at Royal Opera House (!).

Pic­ca­dilly Theatre is your aver­age, small-​staged venue — noth­ing breath­tak­ing but comfy enough, with a lot of legroom. The staff was very help­ful and actu­ally cared which is less and less com­mon in theatres nowadays. But let’s not go off the topic here…

Do not worry, I’m not going to go through every single scene and spoil it for you; instead let me just point out few things that I liked a lot and few that, well… I liked a bit less.

The Cast:

There are 4 roles worth men­tion­ing: Sam and Molly, Carl and Oda Mae Brown. Although com­pletely dif­fer­ent they were per­fectly com­posed and felt nicely bal­anced through­out the whole play.

Sam (the dead dude) is played by Richard Fleesh­man — a young Brit­ish singer-​songwriter, whom West End goers may recog­nised from Leg­ally Blonde, where he starred as Warner. I don’t think he’s a trained musical singer (or at least it didn’t show), but I found his over­all per­form­ance very, very good. In fact I usu­ally judge art by the amount of goose bumps I receive from it, and there were at least 2 or 3 high scores for Mr Richard here — espe­cially at the end of act I, but I leave the dis­cov­ery of it to you.

Ghost, the Musical: Richard Fleeshman as Sam

Sam’s girl­friend — Molly — is por­trayed by Cais­sie Levy. Being a part of pro­duc­tions like Hair, Wicked, Hair­spray or Rent, I’d really like to call her a stage vet­eran but, hell, she’s younger than me and also one undeni­ably attract­ive woman, so it’s prob­ably not the best idea(; I really liked her singing and stage pres­ence — the trans­form­a­tion from cute and flir­ta­tious to sad and mel­an­cholic was exactly what I hoped for and 100% believ­able. I’d say that her voice is rather gentle, per­haps lack­ing some vibrato juice at times, but it suited the role very well, and I can’t say a single neg­at­ive word about it.

Also, you what I just real­ised? Cas­sie is clearly a long miss­ing younger sis­ter of Lara Fabian! Hot, tal­en­ted, emo­tional, curly blond hair.

OK, OK, calm down now…

Ghost, the Musical: Caissie Levy as Molly

Carl — the evil mup­pet — is Andrew Langtree — another 30something singing actor whom you may have seen in Blood Broth­ers, Mamma Mia, Fame and few TV pro­duc­tions. Although his role was rather small, I found his voice sur­pris­ingly mature and of inter­est­ing tone. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t pitch-​perfect but I’d still like to see him more on stage. Espe­cially con­sid­er­ing his damn evil, plotting-​behind-​your-​backs looks(;

Ghost, the Musical: Andrew Langtree as Carl

Sharon D. Clarke took care of Oda Mae Brown — a con-​artist psychic, who plays a cru­cial, ‘glue’ role in the whole story. Say whatever you want, but I strongly believe she could single-​handedly run a musical and it would be a guar­an­teed hit. She had the most power­ful and ranged voice of all cast mem­bers, she com­pletely owned the stage at all times, and made me laugh stu­pid. I’ll risk say­ing that if not for her, this whole pro­duc­tion would not be as suc­cess­ful as it is, so even if you don’t like chick-​flicks, she’s a good enough reason to go and watch it.

Ghost, the  Musical: Sharon D. Clarke as Oda Mae Brown

Finally there’s the rest of the Ensemble. The guys were sharp, the girls were smoking hot (I was con­stantly dis­trac­ted by Emily Haw­good, Louise Lawson, Laura Sel­wood, Phil­ippa Stefani and the rest of them, which I can’t name! Damn you sexy women!) — everything was per­fectly syn­chron­ised and dynamic. The chorus voices were not offend­ing my ears, as they some­times do; in fact they were nicely sup­port­ing lead vocals.
It would be also a shame not to men­tion a short yet power­ful per­form­ance of Ade­bayo Bolaji — although more rap­ping than singing I found it very refresh­ing and a nice change to the whole musical theme.

Ghost, the Musical: Ensemble

I won’t say Ghost has the best voices I have ever heard. They’re good, even very good at times, but not com­ing even close to e.g. Les Mis­ér­ables, espe­cially that short run they recently had with mag­ni­fi­cent Alfie Boe. But, and it’s a big one, what it has that many other pro­duc­tions lack, is a superb, radi­at­ing young spirit. It made me com­pletely for­got I’m wear­ing a blazer and sit­ting in a theatre.

Dan­cers on the other hand were bril­liant and prob­ably one of the best I’ve seen in years, so big high fives to them. Noth­ing else needs to be said here.

On top of it, many pieces of the story are very uni­ver­sal and cur­rent, and I strongly believe that who­ever can relate to her/​his job per­son­ally, she/he’ll do it way, way bet­ter. At least that’s how I roll.

The Stage, Light­ing and Sound Design:

That is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story. By far Ghost is the most amaz­ing pro­duc­tion I have ever seen. Visu­ally that is. Badass 3D and 2D stage pro­jec­tions, mir­ror illu­sions (yes — there was an illu­sion­ist involved!), smoke effects, dynamic light­ing… almost everything was in a con­stant move. They even had a slo-​mo Matrix-​like scene! Mind­blow­ing! Though if I may sug­gest some­thing, I would prob­ably reduce the amount of blind­ing reflect­ors poin­ted at spec­tat­ors, which was crazy annoy­ing at times.

Ghost, the Musical: Stage Design

Cho­reo­graphy was fant­astic — mod­ern, simple yet with plenty of elec­tri­fy­ing routines and fresh moves. It worked amaz­ingly well with a conveyer-​belt-​like floor and shift­ing walls, and I couldn’t notice a single flaw dur­ing the whole per­form­ance. What also helped was the fact that every single per­son on the stage was dressed in clothes every one of us would wear on a daily basis — either cas­ual or classy — which, again, added to the con­tem­por­ar­i­ness (is that even a word?). Plus we don’t need no bloody French Revolu­tion­ists on the streets.

The only thing that went hor­ribly wrong was acous­tics of the theatre and the match­ing sound design. I’ve been to many pro­duc­tions in my life but what Bobby Aitken and his team achieved here is exactly the oppos­ite of what you’d expect in a venue like this. For some reason the volume was way too high (over­steered?) res­ult­ing in com­pletely dis­tor­ted, crack­ling sound espe­cially in more intense moments. The last time I heard some­thing like this was at Il Divos con­cert in O2 Arena and would never ima­gine exper­i­en­cing any­thing like this ever again, espe­cially in a theatre. Shame, because at 20dB lower it would be just perfect.

Ghost, the Musical: Choreography

The Music:

Per­haps it’s not as epic as Phantom but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it. There are few songs that will def­in­itely end up in the musical hall of fame, so deep respect are in order for Dave Stew­art and Glen Bal­lard. They may have just proved that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cole Porter are not the only suc­cess­ful com­posers out there. And good for them.

The mater­ial range was rather impress­ive — from haunt­ing bal­lads, through funky, disco rhythms, even with ele­ments of rap and gos­pel — but, and this is very import­ant, not for a single second it felt wrong or mis­used. And you know what? I think it’s one of the best cooper­a­tions between the sing­ers and song-​writers I have ever exper­i­enced — the cast was per­fectly matched with the music and story (or vice versa) and it prob­ably is one of the main reas­ons why the whole thing is so enjoy­able. Well done!

In fact there’s a little sampler avail­able at the offi­cial site and the full album at Spo­tify. Go get it!

Sum­ming up, it was a mem­or­able exper­i­ence. It had its flaws as well as moments of glory but I think it’s a worthy con­tender on the musical scene nowadays. I really hope it suc­ceeds on Broad­way in March as it did here, though it’s a shame UK is los­ing the ori­ginal cast because of it.

If, after read­ing all that, you’re still inter­ested in exper­i­en­cing Ghost for your­self, I strongly recom­mend watch­ing the offi­cial behind-​the-​scenes video show­ing some sexy FX and snip­pets of soundtrack recording.

To fin­ish on a high note I’d like to quote Bruce Joel Rubin — a writer of ori­ginal Ghost movie, also deeply involved in the musical ver­sion itself:

In film, you have close-​ups, and that’s one of the ways you take the audi­ence on the char­ac­ters’ inner jour­neys. With a musical, you don’t have close-​ups: the songs are your close-​ups, the songs are what draw you into the heart of this story(…) There’s some­thing about see­ing the story onstage in con­trast to film: the emo­tions are sur­pris­ingly heightened. A musical is so imme­di­ate, so grip­ping: you can’t avoid the power of what is unfold­ing before you; it’s such a love-​of-​life energy. It’s astound­ing how well it works.

Finally, if you ask me whether I’d recom­mend it to my friends, I’d say hell yeah! Every­one should watch it at least once.
Would I watch it again? Sure, but only if they lower the volume. Or if any of the ensemble girls was rel­at­ively single and would join me for a drink after work(;

Peace and Bacon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>