“Ghost the Musical,” starring Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy as Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen, characters that were played onscreen by Swayze and Moore in the 1990 film version, opened recently for previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York, and is expected to open officially this April 2012. The plot is very similar to the film: Sam dies in a brutal mugging and, trapped as a ghost, stays with his girlfriend, Molly, after learning she is in trouble. According to the New York Daily News, however, “the Broadway version is far from a carbon copy of the film.”
Still set to the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” the iconic love scene happens in the musical when Sam plays an Elvis-inspired version of the song to Molly on guitar. Later, after Sam is dead, Molly works on a clay piece, listening to the song while Sam’s ghost sits behind her.
The musical features a book by Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film, and Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart collaborating on music and lyrics. Under the direction of Matthew Warchus, who staged the London production, the musical also stars Da’Vine Joy Randolph playing psychic Oda Mae Brown, a role originally played by Whoopi Goldberg, which won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Composer Dave Stewart spoke with BroadwayWorld.com, discussing his excitement to be a part of this experience. “Imagining a love strong enough to bridge this world and the afterlife is fertile ground on which to build a big, romantic musical,” said Stewart. “Imagine a love that strong.”
Many theater-goers who were excited to see the supernatural aspects of the show were amazed at the special effects they saw on stage. “It was absolutely breathtaking, the walking through walls, appearing out of nowhere,” said Patrick Grossman, an audience member, to the New York Daily News. “I felt like I was at Universal Studios.”
Gina Salamone of the New York Daily News took the time to speak with some audience members after a performance. Though the show is still in previews, it has gotten a positive response from its audience so far. “I had chills through the whole show,” said 21-year-old Jeff Tierno. “It took me a few minutes to get used to it not being Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore,” said Rachel Hercman, another fan. “But they were able to take the movie and make it more contemporary.”
Though the writer took some liberties while recreating the book for the musical, he did make a point to stay true to the original story. “We’ve always approached the play as a brand-new piece that’s very much loyal to the film,” said Levy, who, along with co-star Fleeshman, was part of the world premiere cast in Manchester, England as well as London’s West End production.
According to producer Colin Ingram in an interview with BroadwayWorld.com, “It’s such a joy to see this timeless story as a musical that deeply affects both those who cherish it and those who are seeing it for the first time.”
“Ghost the Musical” is set to open on April 23, 2012.