Review: GHOST THE MUSICAL at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

True love has no bounds

By: Apr. 27, 2023
Review: GHOST THE MUSICAL at Seacoast Repertory Theatre
Review: GHOST THE MUSICAL at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

(Sean Mullaney and Alyssa Dumas star in the Seacoast Repertory Theatre production of Ghost The Musical)

The 1990 film "Ghost" earned instant success with an unusual blend of romantic tragedy, a journey into the supernatural and a murder mystery to be solved. The story was perfectly balanced with the sizzling performances of Patrick Swayze​ and Demi Moore as the young couple in love whose embrace over a potter's wheel became one of Hollywood's most iconic love scenes. Follow that with an Oscar winning scene stealing performance by Whoopi Goldberg as a not so convincing psychic, and the movie has remained a popular favorite through the years.

In 2011, the movie was translated into a stage musical that has gained success for its creative adaptation from the screenplay, energy charged tunes by Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart (Stewart was teamed with Annie Lennox and performed as Eurythmics. Remember "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This?"), and clever sleight of hand magical moments that take place only in the supernatural world.

Under the able direction of co-artistic directors Ben Grant and Brandon James, the Seacoast Repertory Theatre staging of Ghost the Musical is a sentimental, but tragic love story, sprinkled with some corny ensemble numbers, frenetic choreography and outstanding acting that makes for a very entertaining production.

The musical plays pretty much like the movie with leading roles performed by Seacoast Repertory favorites.

Molly (Alyssa Dumas) and her fiancé, Sam, (Sean Mullaney) have their dreams shattered when Sam is shot and killed during a late-night mugging. Caught in a purgatory-like place between this world and the next, Sam becomes a ghost, who runs invisibly about the real world able to hear people but not able to touch them or speak with them. He soon discovers that his murderer is a bank co-worker, Carl (Sam Robert Rogers) and in a chance meeting with a psychic con artist Oda Mae Brown (Alexandra Mullaney) he finds a way to communicate with the world with a mission of sending a warning to Molly who is in grave danger.

If you haven't ever thought of it, you might want to know that a new spirit in the afterlife has a learning curve to adjust to the environment, or at least that's the premise in Ghost The Musical. Sam has an orientation to that world while being introduced to an array of spirits just like himself, who compare stories about what led to their demise. The show mixes a large dose of afterlife humor with some very poignant moments for the living left behind.

Musically speaking there's a funky mix in the show. One minute, there's an ensemble of tap dancing bankers looking like stars in the "Men in Black" movie while other tunes are borderline tear jerkers.

Tender moments abound in Sean Mullaney's rendition of the movie favorite, "Unchained Melody" and he joins Dumas in a thoughtful expression of the couple's relationship in "Three Little Words." Dumas is an amazing vocalist showing her talents in stirring renditions of "With You," and "Nothing Stops Another Day."

Alexandra Mullaney brings the house down in two gospel inspired numbers, "Are You a Believer?" sung while in her psychic parlor with back up vocalists and "I'm Outta Here," a dreamer's lament of what she intends to do with a $10 million check that she and Sam scammed from the bank.

At its core, the show is a love story where even death can't separate a true love. That's where Dumas and Mullaney excel in their portrayals. From the energy of their first onstage embrace to their final goodbyes, you feel the passion that these characters share. You will find this duo believable and heartwarming.

And as for the comic element, Alexandra Mullaney's performance drives the show. Her physical comedy, perfect timing, and vocal styling like Aretha Franklin on steroids, make for an enjoyable character to know and love.

Rogers, who is picture perfect for the handsome male lead characters at the Rep (witness his recent roles in Anything Goes and Sweeney Todd,) is wonderfully cast as a seemingly nice guy who is really a villain in disguise. Let's just say that by the end of the show, he gets what is coming to him, so to speak.

There are great supporting performances by Robert Fabricio Armstrong as the Subway Ghost who dazzles with a pounding vocal rendition in the number, "Focus," and sidekicks Christopher Hobson as Clarence and Sieglinda Fox as Louise who accompany Oda Mae in her psychic shop gospel style number.

There are a few magical moments in the show when objects fly indiscriminately about the stage, a character walks through a solid door, and perhaps, the best gimmick of all, when an actor appears to be at two places on the stage at once, one as a dead body and one very much alive.

The set is a modern Brooklyn loft well-crafted in the small stage area at the Rep. The lighting plan does a great job in highlighting the "go into the light" mantra that seems to pervade the supernatural world. With its usual brilliance, the costuming department at the Rep would seem to have worked overtime to adorn a stage of ghostly apparitions. A show highlight is the welcoming bevy of good spirits that bring good people to the afterlife, not to be confused with the menacing imps that bring others to their devilish demise.

Ghost the Musical is well worth seeing for its tender love story and contemporary flair. It is certainly not as intense as recent Seacoast Rep productions like Sweeney Todd or with more memorable tunes in the likes of Man of La Mancha. Rather, it is a fine stage adaptation of a very popular movie performed brilliantly by the Seacoast Repertory Theatre.

Spoiler alert: Have the tissues handy for the sentimental spirits in the audience.