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Review Roundup: GHOST THE MUSICAL Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

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Ghost the Musical, adapted from the Academy Award winning film, opened tonight, April 23, 2012 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy reprise their starring roles as Sam and Molly, which they originated in London’s hit West End production. They are joined by newcomer Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Oda Mae Brown and Bryce Pinkham as Carl Bruner.

This new musical is directed by Tony Award winner Matthew Warchus and choreographed by Ashley Wallen. Ghost The Musical features a brand-new original score by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, with a book by Bruce Joel Rubin, who has adapted his Academy Award winning original screenplay for the stage. 

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: “Ghost,” with a book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, who (unbelievably) won an Oscar for the movie’s screenplay; and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart (of the fab 1980s synth-pop duo the Eurythmics — say it ain’t so!) and Glen Ballard, may not be the very worst musical ever made from a movie. I might give that palm to either “Dirty Dancing” or “Fame,” neither of which has yet made it to Broadway. (Thank the theater gods for small blessings.) But it is just as flavorless and lacking in dramatic vitality as many that have come before.

Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press: Sam’s final, drawn-out goodbye ignited clapping for its visual beauty — going to heaven looks really, really cool even if the dialogue (”See ya” and “Bye”) is somewhat lacking. But there are some clear missteps, notably the character of the hospital ghost who greets the dead Sam right after his murder. The ghost, which has been reworked since London, still isn’t right, an odd combination of vaudeville and soul that doesn’t fit this shocking moment. Overall, it’s an ambitious, carefully orchestrated work that raises the bar on technological innovation. In London, “Ghost The Musical” has become a hit. How will a Broadway audience likely respond? Ditto.

Suzy Evans, Backstage: Though a technical glitch caused an unplanned 25-minute break at the performance I attended, I’m not going to get caught up in the details. The incident only illustrates exactly what is wrong with “Ghost”: It’s trying to be something it’s not. Warchus has turned a touching silver-screen love story into an overly flashy showbiz musical that betrays the intimacy of its source.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Full confession: The 1990 movie Ghost is on my top 10 list of that decade’s more shameless pleasures. Demi Moore with the Pierrot haircut and artfully applied teardrops; poor Patrick Swayze with his single expression of intense concentration; Whoopi Goldberg at her ghetto-fabulous funniest. What’s not to love? Turns out plenty in this leaden stage musicalization of the supernatural romantic thriller, a flavorless hash that is unrelentingly loud, vulgar and stunningly tone-deaf to the ways in which the world has changed since that era of sweet young yuppie innocence.

Steven Suskin, Variety: Full of moving scenery, lights, projections, film and magical illusions, but devoid of actual magic, the Broadway production of "Ghost" is a lumbering megatuner with little to offer beyond a limitless array of dazzling effects. But while it's tempting to suggest the show hasn't a ghost of a chance, that assessment might not be warranted: The still-running London production successfully parried a dire critical reception last July, and audience response to the visuals and that familiar title might well attract enough Rialto customers to make a go of it.

Matt Windman, AM New York: The pottery wheel has been carried over. Same goes for the hit song "Unchained Melody," which is sung countless times. But that hardly helps "Ghost the Musical," a faithful but unmoving and overblown adaptation of the 1990 Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore romantic fantasy that has become an iconic chick flick.

Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: Ghost the Musical is a literally spectacular stage show. It makes better use of video projections than any previous show on Broadway...No other current Broadway show – and, I would wager, no Broadway show ever – has had an illusionist as part of the design team...Director Matthew Warchus, whose previous directorial efforts on Broadway have tilted toward sophisticated comedies, the Broadway equivalent of art house movies — Art, God of Carnage, The Norman Conquest – is here trying something new. I’m not sure he is presiding over the Broadway equivalent of a date movie; it seems closer to the Broadway equivalent of a theme park ride. That’s not a put-down. The best rides are exhilarating.

Linda Winer, Newsday: The ads for "Ghost: The Musical" proclaim "You've never felt anything like this . . . You've never seen anything like this." The point, well taken, is that this song-and-dance adaptation of the hit 1990 movie attempts to push Broadway technology beyond mere cinematic rip-off to something akin to music videos at the IMAX. Never mind, presumably, that the songs, the story and the acting are paint-by-numbers primers that add nothing to the movie that starred Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, Whoopi Goldberg and a pottery wheel spinning to the unhinged innuendo of "Unchained Melody." The main event here is the feeling/seeing of all the neat nonstop special effects (except when a mysterious technical glitch caused a dead stop for almost a half-hour at a recent preview).

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: If you haven't seen Ghost on screen, there's a bittersweet ending. For the musical's producers, the future looks brighter: A third production is set to open in Melbourne next year. Apparently, sentimentality and special effects are draws — even if the latter can play tricks on you occasionally.

Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: The chief draws of Warchus' production are the high-tech set (by designer Rob Howell), the cinematic video projections (designed by Jon Driscoll), the striking lighting (designed by Hugh Vanstone), and illusionist Paul Kieve's onstage magic effects that let Sam move objects and walk through walls. Like Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, the musical version of Ghost haunts the eye, not the ear.

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: If the comic-book ideal appeals to you as much as it apparently did to director Matthew Warchus -- and if you haven’t been to the movies in, say, a couple of decades -- “Ghost: The Musical” has plenty to offer. Palpitating with light-emitting diodes that blink, flicker, zip and flash, “Ghost” is like “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” without the depth.

Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune: Our fervent if fantastical wish that our lives, and the lives of those we love, don't end with death has informed musicals since the form was invented. It is the heartbeat of "Carousel," one of the greatest musicals of all. So that moment in "Ghost" — not so different, really, from the instant Julie Jordan senses Billy Bigelow standing before her — should put a lump in your throat. And for a second, it does (it's why the movie made plenty of people cry). But in this instance, it's quickly replaced by resentment that a show has co-opted and manipulated such an exquisitely raw and potent device, a vulnerable place for any audience where no show should casually tread, and used it so carelessly, tossing away the human vulnerability for a slew of harsh, digitized illusions.

Vulture (NY Mag): I call Stewart (a former Eurythmic) and veteran popsmith Ballard “composers,” but “producers” is closer to the spirit of the thing: This is really not music but production, which is keeping with Ghost’s gestalt: It’s the most impressively overproduced entity on Broadway, and there’s no small thrill in witnessing the technical prowess on display, even when it batters your retinas like timpani on Orff night, drowning out everything else.

Howard Shapiro, Philadelphia InquirerLuckily, the show recovers, delivered by four talented leads who include Philadelphian Da’Vine Joy Randolph in the part of the con-artist spiritualist. Randolph, a Temple University grad who received her bachelor’s degree in classical vocal performance and went on to a drama master’s from Yale, is giving the juicy role a great ride, belting it out when called for, playing it for all the extremes it’s worth and generally sizzling.

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