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BWW Review: GHOST a Pale Ghost to 'Ghost' at Empress Theatre

BWW Review: GHOST a Pale Ghost to 'Ghost' at Empress Theatre


In "Ghost" the movie, Sam cannot articulate his love for his ceramicist partner, Molly. And he is killed before he can say more than "ditto."

The Oscar-nominated original is memorable for the famously phallic pottery-wheel sequence and an intimate moment the lightening rod Patrick Swayze shares -- through the occupied body of Whoopi Goldberg (as a hocus-pocus psychic, Oda Mae -- who is now, as the title tells us, a disembodied ghost, with the weepy Demi Moore. And the Righteous Brothers' cover of "Unchained Melody" gained popularity anew.

Apparently, someone thought the newly iconic song needed to be heard on Broadway. In yet another dime-a-dozen, screen-to-stage transfer, GHOST the Broadway adaptation musicalized this story and retained show's sole song.

With book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, the storyline is nearly identical with line-by-line retreads (including "Molly, you in danger, girl"). And stripped of any eroticism. The music and lyrics are flaccid, innocuous and forgettable. "Unchained Melody" is the only song of interest in the show.

The musical died on Broadway after a mere 136 performances. Forgive the inept metaphor, but GHOST is a pale ghost of "Ghost."

Unless you're a diehard musical theater devotee, not content without seeing every Broadway musical on one stage or another, skip this show. (You're welcome.) Noted that one other Wasatch Front theater company, with a large, grey-hair subscription base uninterested in being challenged, staged GHOST; but that was only to follow its misguided edict to proclaim "We did it first!"

Why GHOST at the Empress Theatre in Magna?

In the roles of Sam and Molly, Brock Dalgleish and Camille Crawley give bravura performances, seemingly unaware of the bland script and songs (and...surroundings). They have strong, sweet voices and genuine chemistry. Dalgleish tackles the role and savors performing as the hunky hero determined to make the production an ectoplasmic romance/thriller. Crawley's is warmly expressive, with a sweet stage presence.

As Carl, Sam's duplicitous business partner, Zac Freeman has a strong voice but is colorless in the role. There's no hint of his nefarious intentions or a pseudo interest in Molly. It takes gumption to follow in Goldberg's Oscar-winning footsteps, and Kelsie Ta'afua chose to underplay the the comical Oda Mae role but is still effective and winning.

Director Candice Jorgensen, aided by choreographer Ashley Loewer, receive ample credit for keeping the stage lively with a pleasing, quick pace. Ensemble members stumble to impress.

If you are familiar with the New York City staging, don't look for visual trickery and video projections on choreographed screens. Lacking any conviction, the set designer (Jorgensen) relies on a rotation of posted signs to denote various locations. Ty Whiting's costume are unconvincingly patterned after New York Cityites, in the what-can-you-pull-from-your-closet vein.

Something to savor from GHOST?

"The love inside -- you take it with you." And you have the only unmentioned aspect to treasure from GHOST.

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From This Author Blair Howell