Wednesday, 6 May 2015

"Ghost" by Christchurch Theatre Club​
Loughborough Town Hall.

It's a brave step for any amateur theatre company to stage a musical as technical as this. If you think back to the film there are many special effects involved, which would be impossible to replicate on stage. Although you can only recreate certain effects with restraints on funds, Christchurch Theatre Club (CTC) have done a marvellous job with the technical side. A triumph for producer and director John R Lewin.

The lines were blurred between the movie and the stage production, as part of the magic of this show was taking you out of the standard confines of the theatre walls by using cinematography, something that is becoming more and more popular in theatre today, keeping the theatre experience fresh. The projection side was designed and managed by Craig Butterworth and Skrinkle Studios.

With this expertise of projection and a cast of quality to match the professional tour, you can guarantee an exciting roller coaster of emotional entertainment.

The story is of two young lovers, Molly and Sam, who have just moved to Brooklyn and are setting up home. All is good with the pair until on their way home from an evening out, they are mugged and Sam is killed leaving Molly to be consoled by Sam's best friend and work mate Carl. Due to the violent way Sam died, his spirit remained in limbo and he hung around to discover that his death, although accidental, was not quite what he originally thought, and the motive for this was closer to home that he dared to anticipate.

Molly was played by Lucy Maden and what a lovely emotional performance she put in. One of my favourite songs from the modern musical is from "Ghost", called "With You", and she pours everything into this song, making the hairs on my neck and arm stand up. Great control over those long notes.

Sam is played by James Nelson, and is on stage for the majority of the musical. Here is someone else who has an emotive voice, just perfect for musical theatre. His physicality of the role is also spot on. Just see him in the slow motion scenes in the subway. A good mix of emotions, from his tender scenes with Molly to the anger and confusion he feels of being dragged from the living world and his betrayal by Carl, as well as his protectiveness towards Molly and Oda Mae, the psychic who he goes to to contact Molly..

Carl Bruner, Sam's work colleague, is the catalyst for Sam's departure from the human world. Carl is another strong character, played by another strong actor with an equally strong voice, David Burton​. Carl's moods swing from regret to greed, willing to do anything to get his hands on what he wants, but he gets his comeuppance thanks to Oda Mae and Sam.

Oda Mae, the psychic, is just the ideal role for Monique Henry​. Or is Monique the ideal actor to play Oda Mae. Over the top, fun, fiesty and she has some brilliantly comic scenes. As usual her vocals are right up there, note perfect, and she can belt a song out. Rightly so she received a big round of applause when she took her bows at the end.

The 21 strong supporting cast did the principals proud with a special mention to Sean Hickling who was excellent as the subway ghost who protects his haunting ground from Sam, but also helps him to move things on. Also Carl Unwin as the hospital ghost who helps Sam come to terms with his in limbo state. The ensemble  proved themselves more than capable as well with the eye catching choreography, which was the responsibility of Michael Gamble.

Lovely comfortable sound mix from the orchestra, engineered by Total Theatre Ltd. The scene changes were engineered smoothly which enabled the easy flow of the scenes. Some catchy songs that only remain catchy until you leave the theatre but there is the biggie, "Unchained Melody" which is revisited throughout the musical and the gorgeous "With You".

Everything you could want from a love story where good triumphs over evil. But is the ending happy or sad? Depends on how you view it.

"Ghost" is on at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 9 May 2015

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