Tuesday, 29 November 2011

'Ghost The Musical', Piccadilly Theatre, London, 17/11/11

From the overture, complete with a title sequence, it was clear that the film was never far from the creators minds (well, the screenwriter also wrote the book!), so much so that there were few deviations from the film’s details, save for theatrical purposes (there is no penny floating in the air for example, but what replaces it is simple, theatrical and succinct.).
Musically the score is enjoyable, though only one or two songs really stood out for me. That said it certainly suits the piece well since the whole production has a look and feel that is part musical theatre, part rock concert, especially where the lighting is concerned. Sadly, at times, the music obliterated the words though this was not detrimental to the understanding of the story.
Rob Howell’s design was fluid with moving floor sections (a tad overused in my opinion) and LED walls being used to present a variety of locations and effects. Speaking of effects, the magic effects (including the Blue Room Illusion) by illusionist Paul Kieve were truly engaging and well executed and  kudos must go to the lighting which aided in many of these. Likewise the projections served the production well.
The choreography by Ashley Wallen seemed quite alien at times in relation to what was happening plot-wise and served no real dramatic purpose at times though when used to comment on fast living NYC and the world of finance then it came into its own as did the chorus.
Caissie Levy was clearly the outstanding performer of the show with a great voice, subtle acting and believability as ‘Molly’ that removed any thought of Demi Moore instantly. Richard Fleeshman as ‘Sam’ fared less well however: He certainly looks good in the role but is let down somewhat by a voice that isn’t consistent; he breathes most of the lower notes, rendering them almost inaudible, and it seems that, at times, he is fighting with the higher notes. In his mid-range, though, he is quite effective. Otherwise he is generally believable throughout if a tad one dimensional at times.
Sharon D Clarke normally plays ‘Oda Mae’ but I saw her understudy Lisa Davina Phillip instead who played the role for every laugh possible. She had the entire audience in stitches and sang with an energy that stole every scene she was in. Hers is a role that contrasts with the more subdued leading characters and that contrast was well played. 
I also saw the understudy ‘Carl’; Paul Ayres seemed to be trying too hard and as such his character seemed to be a little bit of a caricature when compared to the others. I hope that as he performs the role more he will settle into the part. I was a trifle disappointed not to see Andrew Langtree in the role but such is life. The supporting characters were excellently played and the company performed well.
Matthew Warchus’ direction is fluid, sharp and his manipulation of the stage as a whole is amongst the best I've seen. Some of the more dramatic moments, however, feel a tad rushed and leave the audience with little time to empathise with the people they are watching before quickly moving onto the next piece of action within the scene. It is also worthy to note that the iconic pottery wheel moment is referenced to but in a clever way that is not a mere rehashing of the film’s scene. In fact it becomes one of the most honest and emotive points in the show.
Overall this is a most enjoyable show and certainly something special to experience live and I do believe this will appeal to an audience of a vast variety and I expect it to last a fair while in London.

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