BWW Reviews: iGhost @ Lyric Theatre Has Much Potential
book by Doug Haverty
based upon Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost
music by Adryan Russ; lyrics by Haverty and Russ
directed by Jules Aaron
through June 18
If you enjoy the flavor of an intelligently written literary work translated skillfully into a stage musical, like The Secret Garden or more recently The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, iGhost will simultaneously stimulate your mind and tug at your heart, especially if you're a hopeless romantic.This production now onstage @ the Lyric Theatre in Hollywood is not without flaws, but is certainly engaging with some beautifully written tunes and a mostly outstanding cast.
One of the most riveting performances is that of Rebecca Johnson as Virginia an art student/painter who comes to London on a work/study program. She lights up the stage with her very first entrance. Her natural beauty, stellar singing voice and sense of humor never diminish. Peter Welkin as Sir Simon makes a dashing ghost, and with his commanding presence and rich tenor keeps the audience mesmerized. Also dynamic is Zachary Ford as Simon's nephew Trevor, a bumbling, fumbling, deliciously lovable mensch who falls head over heels in love with Virginia. Just watching him walk about is a treat, with every faltering step adding dimension to his character's instability. Bonnie Snyder and Paul Zegler are delightful as Mr. and Mrs. Umney, especially Snyder with her sweet, honest wit/wisdom. It is only Dorrie Braun who is very badly miscast as Lucinda. Her straightforward delivery strips the character of any appeal, vicacity or magic. I love the gradual blooming of romance between Virginia and Trevor, but somehow the ultimate bonding of Simon and Lucinda, which should be a breathtaking piece de resistance, falls short. The entire chorus are fine and move nimbly to Allison Bibicoff's efficient choreography. Director Jules Aaron exercises a steady hand, keeping the pacing swift throughout.
As to the writing, Doug Haverty has done a wonderful job of adjusting Wilde's classic story to the present, with all the humorous references to the internet as "technical rhetoric" and a "highway of stampeding data". The ending does need more clarification, as it's currently not clear how Lucinda toppled down the stairs. Did she fall or was she pushed? What is most winning is Virginia's totally humane manner and its positive effect in softening Simon's coarseness and taking away Trevor's insecurity. Also excellent is having chorus members seemingly float in and out as spirits, disrupting human actions. On a bigger stage, special effects may be used, such as in letting the paintbrush float through the air on its own, but watching the spirits at play adds more fun. Adryan Russ's music is for the most part beautiful to listen to and with the exception of the last tune "Anything Is Possible" which sounds like it came right out of Disney's Cinderella, quite distinctively original. J. C. Gafford's set and lighting are economical and work well in the small space.
iGhost is a very pleasant evening of theatre for those who enjoy a classic romance with a lighter, more entertaining touch of mischief thrown in. Past touching present; present reaching back to the past; a seance; the quest for love eternal. How thrilling!
Fine writing, fine music, overall fine acting: lots of potential!