Review: GHOST THE MUSICAL at Performances, Singing And Dancing Eclipse Script And Score In BW/Beck's GHOST THE MUSICAL

By: Feb. 16, 2023
Review: GHOST THE MUSICAL at Performances, Singing And Dancing Eclipse Script And Score In BW/Beck's GHOST THE MUSICAL
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Performances, singing and dancing eclipse script and score in BW/Beck's GHOST the musical

Roy Berko
(Member: Cleveland Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Circle)

There is an adage in the theatre world that "one should not come out of a musical whistling sets and costumes." In other words, the important aspects of a musical are the book (story) and the lyrics and music, not the production aspects.

In spite of these sage words, after seeing GHOST, The Musical on Broadway, though I was under-whelmed by the shallow book and the lack of memorable music, my review of the show waxed eloquently about the production qualities, especially the effects which resulted from the electronic projections, which allowed for actors to run through walls and appear to be suspended in space.

Though not as visually spectacular as the New York production, the sleek BW/Beck set by Jordan Janota and lighting design by Russ Borski do much to support the superlative BW cast. But before we get into the performances and staging...

GHOST is a musical, based on the hit 1990 film of the same name, with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard. The stage version opened in Manchester, England in March of 2011, ran on the West End and was transferred to Broadway in 2012, where it ran a brief 136 performances.

The musical starts when New York banker, Sam Wheat, and his long-time girlfriend, sculptor, Molly Jensen, move into a loft apartment in Brooklyn, aided by Sam's co-worker Carl Brunner.

Sam and Molly are in love. Sam, however, shies away from articulating the "L" word. In what is an important plot development foreshadowing, he assures Molly that he doesn't say it in so many words because he prefers to, "say it through his actions."


At work, Sam notices some discrepancies with several bank accounts. He shares his discoveries with Carl. (Shout out: Major plot clue).

After a night out, as they return to their apartment, Sam and Molly are confronted by an armed man who tries to steal Sam's wallet. Sam fights back instead of surrendering. They struggle for the holdup man's gun. It goes off. Sam is fatally shot. (Another plot advancer.)

We quickly find out that Sam is caught in the netherworld (Eww!) and the hold-up was orchestrated by Carl. He needs to warn Molly that she is in danger. He turns to Oda Mae, a fake clairvoyant, to help him. (The writer needed to both get some humor into the plot and incorporate in an off-beat character.)

Molly gets a visit from Oda Mae, but Molly is hesitant to believe what she is being told, until Oda Mae starts parroting things that only Sam would know. (Including that he had trouble saying "I love you, "which I told you about a couple of paragraphs ago.) Thus, we have all the elements of exposition to allow the audience to be taken on a fantasy journey where love conquers all.

The BW/Beck production, under the directing of Victoria Bussert, is creatively staged. Lauren Tidmore's choreography has the perfect amount of pizzaz, and Matthew Webb's seven-piece orchestra hits all the right notes.

The cast is outstanding. Bussert, in choosing the students to be in her Musical Theatre program, usually has a couple of "stud" guys who are not only visual gym-toned eye-candy, but can sing, act and dance. Mark Doyle (Sam) and Mike Bindeman (Carl) are in BWs ready for Broadway pipe-line.

Doyle, who has been seen locally in MAMMA MIA!, THE LIGHTNING THIEF, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, CHRISTMAS CAROL and SPRING AWAKENING, is a graduating senior. He has a strong voice, good acting chops and a nice stage presence. He, and adorable and talented Jessi Kirtley (Molly) play-off each other well. Their duets, "Here Right Now" and "Three Little Words," are show highlights.

Bindeman, another BW graduating senior, also showcases strong singing chops and is properly snarky as the manipulating Carl. Versatile Danny BÓ fascinates as Subway Ghost.

Colleen Longshaw, who has trod the stage at every local professional theatre, and been seen in national tours and on Broadway, steals the show as the outrageous Oda Mae Brown.

Capsule judgment: GHOST THE MUSICAL has a weak book and non-memorable music, but it is worth seeing to appreciate its wonderful singing, dynamic dancing, fine acting and creative staging! Go! See! Enjoy!

GHOST, which has a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes runs through February 26, 2023. For tickets call 216-521-2540 or go on-line to https://www.beckcenter.org/shows/ghost



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