It’s not often a piece of commercial theatre arrives at the Bristol Hippodrome, featuring the innovation and quality that Ghost – The Musical has to offer.
For those who may worry the classic movie leaping from screen to stage can’t possibly work couldn’t be more wrong.
This sensational show draws the audience right into the action from the start. Its stunning use of film, projection, 3D and 4D, ups the game of every West End Show to be, with its amazing cinematic effects.
The underground tube system is particularly great and there are brilliant magical effects littering the show from start to finish.
Subway Ghost smashing a cigarette machine and making a packet fly through the air is one of them.
But perhaps the most poignant and brilliant effect is at the end of the show, when Sam finally goes to heaven.
Enhanced with traditional theatrical conventions, including choreography and costume, we get us a real sense of fast-paced New York City.
There is also plenty of slight of hand and fast movement to create impressive effects such as the dead leaving their bodies.
Of course, we need a little more than effects to appreciate the supernatural elements. As well as some staggeringly brilliant lighting and projection, it is the performance of Stewart Clarke as Sam Wheat at the very heart of the show. Being a younger Sam than Patrick Swayze, Clarke manages to bring much more vulnerability to his performance.
Rebecca Trehearn as Molly Jenson, is a strong independent woman, tougher than Demi moore’s portrayl, and much more stiff upper lip.
It takes around two minutes to adjust to the fact that this is not Moore or Swayze on stage. But straight away, we know the show is going to meet our expectations of the movie. After this, though we know how the story goes, the cast and creatives still manage to keep the audience gripped and on the edge of their seats to the bitter sweet end.
Strangely, despite the betrayl of Carl – played by David Roberts – at the end of Act One we feel some pity for the friend who got himself too deep into trouble. In fact, Roberts manages to show an element we don’t see in the original film. That all he wants is for things to go back the way they were.
The story is faithful to the film, owing to its original Oscar-winning writer creating the book and lyrics for the stage show.
Bruce Joel Rubin’s story, though featuring the afterlife, is a tale so human we can all relate to it in some part. There is love, loss, revenge, bereavement, betrayal and healing.
The intensity of show is broken up by the brilliance of Wendy Mae Brown as Oda Mae Brown. Her character is based on Whoopi Goldberg’s performance. Between Wendy and her ‘sisters’ Clara and Louise – Karlene Wray and Keisha Atwell, we get the hysterical comedy that is a welcome relief from the show’s darker elements.
At the end of the performance there can be few dry eyes in the house. The score is not outstanding and you won’t be singing any of the songs for the next week. But what you will take away from the theatre with you, is that sense that good triumphs over evil in the end along with the memory of seeing one of the most fantastic pieces of West End theatre you will watch in a long time.
Running at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 14 September 2013
Tickets from £10