Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Ghost: The Musical
Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Also see Jeffrey's reviews of The Trouble With Doug and Dividing the Estate

While attending the opening of the touring production of Ghost: The Musical, I had 2 1/2 hours to fondly reflect on other things; shows that I had seen in the past that, while not wonderful, at least had one redeeming factor. Cry for Us All (Joan Diener, Robert Weede), Let It Ride (a lovely score and good book based on Three Men on a Horse), The Happiest Girl in the World (Cyril Ritchard. Need there be more?), I Had a ball (Karen Morrow) and Skyscraper (Sammy Cahn's score and Julie Harris being her wonderful self). I know I'm dating myself, but those were good years.

How is it possible for a musical to not have one redeeming factor? Ghost: The Musical ("the Musical"? In case we have to be reminded) is based on the beloved film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. It seems a natural to be adapted into a musical in much the same vein that Saturday Night Fever and Footloose were. Oh, how misguided the entire enterprise turned out to be.

A musical has to have music. Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) has penned both music and lyrics. I have no idea what the lyrics are, since the majority of them were unintelligible due to an inadequate sound system. When a cast screams everything, I defy you to recall one complete lyric. Add to the mix choreography that has no rhythm or reason, executed by a chorus that interrupts the action whenever a boost of some kind is needed, and the essential aspects of a "musical" are subjugated. Matthew Warchus directed. I can only assume he was on auto-pilot after the Matilda experience.

To make up for the lack of substance, the production team has opted for a blinding, headache-inducing onslaught of "technical wizardry" that does, literally, boggle the mind: a Star Wars-like opening; LED screens that a subway and clouds intermittently appear on; and let's not forget the rain effects, which appear to be the reason for the chorus to come out bearing endless umbrellas.

I will not mention the cast by name, except for one. It seems that the money went into the aforementioned "special effects" and not the talent. Granted, this is a non-Equity tour, but when last night's audience paid upward of $100 per seat, some quality had to be expected. I fondly remember, several years ago, a non-union tour of Cats which was superb. Here, we have in the leads a very tired, catatonic Molly with pitch and audibility problems. As for Sam, who is murdered at the top of the show, he screams and screams throughout the night. I thought he was supposed to be dead! There is one bright light in the sole fun role, and that is Carla R. Stewart as Oda Mae Brown, the psychic who channels Sam for his fiancĂ©e's benefit. Granted, it's an actor-proof part, but Ms. Stewart runs away with it ... and the show! The moment she appears, she injects some life into what is, up till then, a flaccid, inert evening.

With so many musicals produced, I do not understand why a tour of a show that was not a success on Broadway, and opened to negative reviews, would be on the road. Perhaps the fact that it is a non-union production says it all. I doubt if a full union tour could have ever been in the cards.

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts has a chock-a-block season of touring shows for next season. With Annie, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Motown, Pippin and Anything Goes on the roster, I, for one, am feeling optimistic.

Ghost at the Broward Center through May 11, 2014. Tickets: $34.50 - $74.50; Club Level: $114.50. For more information on the tour, visit

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- Jeffrey Bruce

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