Review: GHOST: THE MUSICAL at Music Theatre of Connecticut

This production runs through April 28

By: Apr. 14, 2024
Review: GHOST: THE MUSICAL at Music Theatre of Connecticut
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Music Theatre of Connecticut is wrapping its 37th season with Ghost: The Musical. The 1990 Oscar-winning film, which starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, and New Canaan’s Tony Goldwyn, works just as well on stage because of its strong story, engaging characters, and the integration of projections.

If you’ve never seen the movie, here’s the plot in a nutshell. Investment manager Sam Wheat (Seth Eliser) is murdered in front of his lover Molly Jensen (Allie Seibold, who is Eliser’s real life wife). Molly is having a very difficult time rebuilding her life without Sam, even with the help of his friend and co-worker Carl Bruner (Matt Mancuso). Sam cannot let go of Molly and with the help of two ghosts (played by Jeff Raab and Scott Mikita), he learns how to navigate being in limbo. During this time, he seeks help from Oda Mae Brown (LaDonna Burns), a fraudulent storefront psychic. She is rattled when she can actually hear him. He convinces her to see Molly and feeds him information to convince Molly that she must go to the police with information about his killer Willie Lopez (played on opening night by Miguel Angel Acevedo for Paul Aguirre).

The story unfolds as Sam learns why he was murdered. Before his death, he discovered that there were discrepancies in an account. Carl promised to look into it. It turns out that Carl was laundering money and had Sam killed before he could learn the truth. With Oda Mae’s help, Sam prevents Carl from getting the money he extorted. He has Oda Mae pose as the faux client Carl was going to send money. She closes the account and happily accepts the check for $10 million, which Sam convinces her to donate to charity. Sam finds Carl in his office in a panic that the account was closed. Sam tells him he knows what he did. Carl threatens to kill Molly if he doesn’t get him the money. Sam convinces Oda Mae to return to Molly to warn her that her life is in danger. Finally, Molly hears and sees Sam.

Director Kevin Connors notes that the musical, which was written by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of the film, Bruce Joel Rubin, retains its beautiful cinematic style. Conners is faithful to that and deftly keeps the story seamless.

The cast is truly amazing. Casting Eliser and Mancuso as friends and co-workers was brilliant – like a tennis match between two strong players. Eliser gives a formidable performance as Sam both as an actor and singer. Seibold gave a lot of substance to the underdeveloped character of Molly. Kayla Arias, Teagan La’Shay, and Leanna Rubin were delightful in their various roles which included a widow, a bank officer, nuns, and accomplices to Oda Mae. Raab and Mikita were standouts as the hospital ghost and subway ghost and minor characters. Acevedo, who played the title role in Wilton Playshop’s musical Jekyll and Hyde, stepped into the role of Willie with credibility. As good as these performers are, it was Burns who not only stole the show, but ran off with it. She out Whoopied Whoopi Goldberg with her presence and her voice and set a new bar for the role of Oda Mae.

The story is much more memorable than the pleasant music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard Jr. The scenic design by April M. Bartlett and lighting design and projections by RJ Romeo are exceptional. The show, produced at any venue, requires projections, and here they worked impeccably with the panels that represented various places. Jon Damast’s sound design was remarkable for its vast transitions between scenes indoors, at the hospital, at the police station, at the office, and at Oda Mae’s lair.

Diane Vanderkroef’s costumes were just right for each character, but they really stood out on Oda Mae. It looks as if Dan O’Driscoll’s fight and intimacy choreography and Clint Hromsco’s choreography inspired Eliser’s excellent navigation in the invisible box he was in as Sam’s ghost. Stage Manager Abbey Murray handled everything on stage and off flawlessly. Kudos also to Music Director Tony Bellomy for well balancing the various styles of music in the show.

Music Theatre of Connecticut’s intimate setting enhances a show such as Ghost, which demands the audience buy into the idea that the dead can still reach out to protect their loved ones. Not everyone believes in ghosts, but this story can make people want to.

Ghost: The Musical runs through April 28th at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue in Norwalk. For tickets, visit the button below or call 203-454-3883.

Next year’s season was just announced, and it’s going to be exciting. Terrence McNally’s Master Class will open the season from September 13-29 and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical will play from December 5-22. In 2025, you can enjoy Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo from February 7-23, and from April 4-19, you will want to see La Cage aux Folles, which never fails to delight audiences. Early discount season passes are available now through May 10. You can see all four shows as previous for as little as $155.00 and regular performances for as little as $170.00. That’s under $45.00 per show performed by members of Actors Equity. There’s no bad seat in the house. And there’s free parking! It just doesn’t get better than this.


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