Ghost the Musical

A Broadway production starring soap stars and pop stars makes for a hit and miss performance, writes Stephanie Cottle

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Blackpool Opera House opened its doors on 4 October for a second evening of Ghost the Musical. Members of the public had turned out in their masses to see the adaptation of the Broadway production, based on the 1990 film starring Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze.

This year the tour of Ghost the Musical has had a lot of press, mostly centred on the former Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding. The singer received some criticism after a YouTube video surfaced claiming to show parts of her performance of female lead character Molly Jenson. Comments from viewers compared her vocals to that of a “screeching banshee”.

Harding’s bad luck seemed to continue and in the days following the YouTube video release the actor had to pull out of the performance due to a throat infection. Surprisingly, after only a matter of days it was announced that the celebrity would bravely return to the stage but on the night a lone A4 sign hung inconspicuously in the box office – ‘Tonight’s performance of Molly will be played by Kelly Hampson”. Harding’s is not the only recognisable face amongst the cast, with Andy Moss (who played Rhys Ashworth in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks) as leading male character Sam Wheat.

As the curtains rose the performance kicked off with the emotional song Here Right Now, which told the tale of two lovers beginning their lives together. Hampson’s vocals were excellent and there was no sign from her that the piece wasn’t rehearsed. Sadly the same could not be said of Moss, who seemed uncomfortable and static in the spotlight. I did feel empathetic towards the actor, who had obviously had to adapt quickly to the frequent cast changes of his on-stage partner.

The show moved quickly to the more energetic number More, which gave Moss the opportunity to gather momentum. Due to the nature of the story, during the show Moss is frequently on stage and left to his own devices with little or no character interaction – it was during those scenes I felt I had difficulty investing in his portrayal of Sam.

The show did have its moments of strength. Jacqui Dubois gave a hearty performance of Ode Mae, who was originally portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1990 film. Dubois had fantastic comedic timing and the audience relished her character’s time on stage. Accompanied by Simbi Akande and Tarisha Rommick, the trio delivered the hilarious number Are You a Believer? and had the crowd in stitches.

The show provided the audience with some incredible physical theatre and the effects devised to show the supernatural properties of the characters were innovative and interesting. But from the quality of acting throughout the evening’s performance it was apparent that the touring cast have been affected by harsh reviews and setbacks.

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Ghost the Musical

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