Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

Ghost the Musical
Music Theatre of Connecticut
Review by Zander Opper

Allie Seibold and Seth Eliser
Photo by Alex Mongillo
Music Theatre of Connecticut is currently presenting a moving and well-acted production of Ghost the Musical. With book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, the musical follows the 1990 film very closely. What makes this Ghost so special is that, under Kevin Connors' fresh and inspired direction, the whole story feels newly minted and may leave you on the edge of your seat, even if you know the movie very well.

Seth Eliser as Sam and Allie Seibold as Molly shine in the leading roles, but the standout performance in the show is given by LaDonna Burns in role of Oda Mae. Burns is so good that she almost makes you forget Whoopi Goldberg's performance in the film. The other parts are ideally cast and everyone in the show is vocally strong. The production is visually stimulating and keeps one glued to the plot. So, even if you have seen the film of Ghost many times, you will still want to check out Ghost the Musical at Music Theatre of Connecticut.

Like the company's recent production of Jersey Boys, Ghost is nimbly staged, with actors making entrances from several different areas, including the aisles. It may take a little bit for this production to find its footing, once it hits its stride it is gripping, with the songs punctuating memorable moments in the plot. What really makes it work, though, is the sincerity of the performances.

As Sam, Seth Eliser is quite wonderful and he especially stands out in the first act finale song "I Had a Life" and, of course, in "Unchained Melody." This actor also has the gift of making the supernatural aspects of the plot ring true and his final moments are genuinely tear-inducing. As Molly, Allie Seibold is enormously touching and brings her beautiful, plaintive singing voice to such ballads as "With You" and "Nothing Stops Another Day." Eliser and Seibold are married in real life and their scenes together are full of tenderness. In the other major role–the unsympathetic role of Carl–the good-looking Matt Mancuso is perfectly smarmy and he pulls off the part flawlessly.

And then there is LaDonna Burns as Oda Mae. She enters about midway through the first act and immediately commands attention. In fact, she gives the whole production a jolt and one eagerly awaits each of her scenes. Burns brings hilarity to the part, but she is terrific in the serious scenes, as well. She nearly stops the show with her big second act song, "I'm Outta Here." It's hard to convey just how special Burns is in this show, but it can be said that she is absolutely outstanding and would make Ghost worth seeing just for her performance. After conquering this supporting part, Burns deserves a show of her own.

The rest of the cast is quite fine, including, at the performance I attended, understudy Miguel Angel Acevedo, who was excellent in the role of Willie Lopez. Also making a strong impression is Scott Mikita as a subway ghost, notably in the song "Focus." The rest of the cast play a multitude of roles and there is not a weak link among them. Although Ghost doesn't allow for very much dancing, choreographer Clint Hromsco works wonderfully with the director in keeping the musical on the move.

The set design by April M. Bartlett is attractive and appropriate, enhanced by employing vertical panels at the back of the stage, which can be slid side to side for the performers to make entrances. These panels also work splendidly with the standout projection design by RJ Romeo, who also provides the mood-setting lighting design. Costumes designed by Diane Vanderkroef are spot on, with the outrageous robes and outfits for Oda Mae being especially memorable. And Tony Bellomy is the masterful musical director, leading the fabulous off-stage band.

Ghost the Musical at Music Theatre of Connecticut has the remarkable ability of making one feel as if they are experiencing this story for the first time. The human connection between the two leading characters is touching and heartfelt, bringing the whole musical to a transcendent final scene, which may make you weep. There is real magic making in this production, making it something of a must-see.

Ghost the Musical runs through April 28, 2024, at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT. For tickets and information, please visit