Ghost (The Musical) – Review

William J Connolly
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Stewart Clarke and Rebecca Trehearn.

Nottingham Royal Concert Hall | 2:30pm, 17th August, 2013 

A groundbreaking musical full of special effects, heart-pumping ensemble numbers, and a fight of desperation to get someone, just anyone, to believe one last time.  A touching, emotional, angry fight to protect the one you love from harm.

Ghost – The Musical follows the journey of love after the murder of young lover Sam Wheat during a mugging of him and partner Molly in New York City. Trapped between this world and the next, he is unable to leave Molly alone and in danger and entrusts in phony storefront psychic Oda Mae Brown to help protect her in what turns out to be an emotional, tearful roller coaster.

Stewart Clarke, most recently seen in London’s Loserville, is beautiful, both physically and vocally, as leading man Sam Wheat, the role made famous by Patrick Swayze in the original 1990 film. Wheat’s desperation to protect lover Molly reduced many to tears in the show’s closing scene. Alongside his angry attack at co-star David Roberts as criminal Carl Bruner, the recent graduate is a strong lead for the tour.

Ghost’s story may be slightly beyond belief, but its display of undying love and desperation to protect the ones closest to you gives it the touch of reality it duly needs. Ghost is adapted to the stage by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Matthew Warchus. Its music and lyrics come from Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard; famous for their work as part of the Eurythmics.

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Joining Stewart is Welsh actress Rebecca Trehearn, as heartbroken Molly. First played on screen by Demi Moore, her innocent poise yet powerhouse vocals add the sense of innocence needed to bring Molly’s story to life. I defy anyone to experience Trehearn’s crushing solo number With You and not be moved. Pure emotion personified as a song. Her involvement as an understudy in the original London production shows greatest here.

Alongside the explosion of emotion and tears, the show does also include large-scale ensemble numbers that gives it the perfect balance. However, nothing can stop the tour-de-force that is Wendy Mae Brown. The woman is a hilarious, comedy genius, with the vocals to match, looking every inch like Whoopi Goldberg. Oda Mea Brown, no similarity in name, needs guts and a gospel voice to fill an arena, and Brown is all and more. The psychic ‘reader and advisor’ really was the ideal casting.

Additional show highlights include Are You A Believer?, Rain / Hold On and I’m Outta Here; all large-scale ensemble numbers lead by the production’s vocally perfect leads.

Although Nottingham Royal Concert Hall may not be the ideal venue for the piece, due to its poor sound balances and awkward stage size, the cast battled through and ensured the afternoon audience experienced the greatest of their talents.

Ghost is visually groundbreaking for its time. Experiencing the audience reaction of gasps and disbelief as characters walk through doors, disappear, letters fold alone and characters double. The show delivers a visually perfect production. Ghost has ignored the trend by many recent touring productions of reducing scenery and quality by changing its show around an evolving, grand set.

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New noticeable changes include the addition of new songs and lyrical tweaks and a new, rather different, overall production design. In times of tough economic problems, having such a large-scale production defy the usual cheaper sets, adds to the great production values it already has. Ghost also utilises advances in modern musical theatre with moving video and screen projections alongside sound effects and the infamous movie title song Unchained Melody.

Although changing the story itself would stray away too much from the original film, the addition of new characterisations in all three leads, and vastly with show-baddie Carl, allowed the piece to progress at a faster and more intense pace. Trehearn commented afterwards that the show is in ‘a better place’ now. Never before have I seen a show change so much from its West End run.

Here’s hoping Ghost, with all its changes, gets a second life in London. If you get chance to watch this beautiful story unfold on stage; take tissues. You’ll need them.

Ghost – The Musical closes in Nottingham on the 24th before opening at the Bristol Hippodrome (27th August – 14th September).

Tickets available direct at:

About William J Connolly

Theatre journalist | Ex: The Times Newspaper, London 2012 (PR) and Marketing Manager for CHTC (Sheffield Lyceum). Twitter: @WJConnolly