On Saturday I had the honor of visiting Lancaster, PA to watch a rework of the musical adaptation of “Ghost.” This one seemed to focus more on the story and be less about the spectacle. If you saw “Ghost” on Broadway, you know exactly what I am talking about when I say they want to focus on the story instead of the spectacle. Everyone remembers the Broadway production’s technical prowess put on stage, how in awe they were, and how they hadn’t seen anything like it. Nobody ever talked about the story, or the songs. It didn’t last long, and once gone nobody really missed it. So the good folks at The Fulton Theater set to make this wrong a right, because if the movie had that much staying power, how come the show didn’t? Now the question is: did they succeed?
First of all, let me start by saying I do not feel this should have been a musical. The story works in the film because of the contrast between the supernatural world in which the main character lives, in contrast to the real world in which they really exist. To create musical numbers around it takes it further into a fantasy story and, in the process, it’s loses what made it special to begin with. And the music doesn’t help in this production, as songs sound very similar to each other, especially when it comes from the main characters. The only time I was engrossed by a musical number in this particular show was the Subway Ghost number. It broke the monotony of the past scenes, and it added a cool factor to the production. It had to do a lot with Kyle Baird’s performance. Not only did he command your attention when other cast members tried to steal it, but he also rocked it on his other characters.
So, would the production have worked if they made it into a play? The acting by the main characters was underwhelming. They didn’t connect with each other and their dialogue did not sound real. At least not modern, and while the movie was set in 1990, there’s no mention of that being the year the show is set in. Oda Mae Brown (played by E. Faye Butler) was too much of a caricature of an idea for somebody to actually create a good character. Bravo to Butler for trying, but she didn’t have much to work with.
And that’s the main problem here. Yes, the technical aspects of this production are impressive, and I would recommend everyone check out The Fulton Theater, but the main problem lies with the show itself. It doesn’t work as a musical. It’s not thrilling enough, nor magical enough. It’s in the middle of those, populated by bad stereotypes, ramped up to serve their community. Oda Mae Brown was offensive to watch, the character was written to get laughs based on her culture. The same goes for Willy Lopez, for whom the only choices were to act mean and be taken down impressively into hell. But he got huge laughter when they said he was Puerto Rican. It’s that kind of thing that doesn’t make it work in this century. They did a great job trying, but there’s only so much polishing you can do before you realize it still smells.
At the end of it all, I was very entertained, and the time passed by. It is a flawed show that had an enjoyable production thanks to the work put on by this company. They seem to really be in it, and that always raises the level of connection between audience and performers. But it couldn’t hide the fact that this is a flawed and outdated story, that should have had a more compelling adaptation. Still, a strong effort and a good experience to be had outside of the hustle of good ol’ NYC. You can check it out when they go to Maine later in the Summer.
Out of 4 stars:
Twisted Talk: Did you ever see the movie Ghost? What do you think of it as a musical? Discuss below!