Based on the 1990 movie starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, Ghost the Musical is by the same writer, Bruce Joel Rubin. I headed to Old Log Theatre with many of my fellow Twin Cities Theater Bloggers and admittedly had low expectations. Earlier this year, I saw The Bodyguard musical at the Orpheum which was entertaining but corny, so I pictured a similar situation for Ghost.
I’m happy to report this show well exceeded my expectations.
The musical’s plot is the same as the movie’s: Sam Wheat, played by the young and charming Frank Moran, is killed while on a date with his girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Mollie Fischer). His spirit decides to stick around and discovers that he was murdered. This leads him to psychic Oda Mae Brown (Heather McElrath) who connects with Molly to help solve the crime and tell Molly that she is also in danger.
Fresh off a trip to New York City, the set brought me back to the Big Apple with great use of space (including cool light boxes along the top of the stage), a few large moving pieces that double as windows and brick walls which the performers use well to help the cast move throughout the city, and various projections that add more life to the cityscape.
When the supporting cast comes on stage to help with set changes and movement, they are present as ghosts much of the time which adds an “other worldy” feel to the show. Special touches like these and others add depth to Ghost, which also offers a lot of theater magic. Since Sam is a ghost for the majority of the show, he walks through people and walls, and he can’t touch objects on his own until another ghost offers some tips. When he and two other characters die, there’s suddenly a physical body to help show the separation between the physical person and the spirit – if you blink, you’ll miss the sleight of hand (body?) taking place.
Mathias Becker and Jake Cáceres who play Carl Bruner and Willie Lopez, respectively, are the perfect bad guys – I kind of wanted to “boo” them at the curtain call which, to me, means they played their roles just right. There isn’t a weak link in the cast, but I have to give it to Mollie Fischer and Heather McElrath. Fischer brings her whole heart into her role as Molly, and I found myself quite emotionally invested in her character. Whoopi Goldberg has big shoes to fill as Oda Mae Brown, but McElrath offers the right balance of paying homage and making it her own to knock this role out of the park.
The cast and crew stayed after for a talk back, which we bloggers appreciate so much as we know time is valuable. Director Eric Morris is passionate about this show, and he clearly admires and appreciates everyone involved. I’m genuinely impressed by Morris as this is his directorial debut and Ghost is a huge undertaking. It’s a relatively small cast and has many moving parts, yet everything operates like a well-oiled machine. I’d recommend this for a ladies’ night out or a date night.
Ghost the Musical runs through September 23 at Old Log Theatre. Click here to purchase tickets.