Playwright: Bruce Joel Rubin. At: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. Tickets: 800-775-2000; www.BroadwayInChicago.com; $27-$95. Runs through Jan. 19
Ghost: The Musical begins with a cityscape projected on LED screens at the lip of the stage. This sets the tone of the production, with special effects at the forefront instead of a human story about love.
A musical has to have strong catchy songs to make it memorable, and this is where the show can't seem to rise from the grave. How can music and lyric composer Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics not have saved the day with catchier show tunes when he set out to pen this piece? "Here Right Now" is the song highlighted at the beginning and ending of the show, and just doesn't cut the mustard or stick in the brain.
The two main characters sing how they will have years together only to have Sam, one of them, killed in a mugging right afterward. The story then follows his ghost, who haunts Molly and tries to solve a mystery like a dead Scooby-Doo complete with hijinks from a psychic named Oda Mae Brown.
Katie Postotnik, who plays the important role of Molly, falls flat vocally at times. Before you can say, "Molly, you are in danger, girl," she attempts long solos such as "With You" that are a little pitchy, at best. Maybe Katie and Molly were just having a bad night, as well at the director Matthew Warchus, who had the magic touch with Matilda previously.
Based on the 1990 movie Ghost, audiences will be looking for several key things from this show. "Is "Unchained Melody" included?" Yes, it is and will please most when it's used. "Is one of the most romantic pottery scenes on film there?" Yes, but it spins out of control. "Is Oda Mae as funny as the Oscar winner herself in the Whoopi Goldberg role?" No, but she has her moments.
Some hopes will be dashed for nostalgic fans of the movie version starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Creators must have known the emotional attachment that crowds have for the cinematic version and what they were up against.
The subway scene shows some marvelous feats, both technically and visually. It does keep the story moving along and Brandon Curry, as the subway ghost, creates some scares.
Why did another Whoopi Goldberg movie piece, Sister Act: The Musical, work better? It knew how to tell a joke, even improving on the original in some ways, and it felt fresh.
This production lies somewhere between the 101 Dalmations Musical and Flashdance: The Musical but doesn't come close to touching the truly romantic musical adaptation of Once. When audiences are comparing and choosing their movie musicals ( such as The Addams Family and Big Fish ), this one fades away fairly quick in memory. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical showed how much fun can be had with a movie adaptation and didn't take itself so seriously. Remember Xanadu the Musical? A tongue-in -cheek approach would have at least had the camp factor hereor just in throw a Cry-Baby tantrum if nothing else works.
Rumor has it that Ghost The Musical has played better on Broadway and had hotter men in London but this is the non equity tour being reviewed and it is off to a rocky start.
There is some eye candy, a psychic Supreme medley and some flashy lights. However, overall, the stage show is a bit transparent and can't be resuscitated, cashing in on the movie's loyal following instead and not rising above it.
Ghost: The Musical is scared to go for any strong direction and that can kill a relationship faster than you can say, "Ditto."