Ghost: The Musical, with music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard and book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, opened Friday night at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre (NRACT). This musical, which came out in 2011, is, of course, based on the Paramount Pictures 1990 movie, Ghost, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore, and Patrick Swayze.
This show is one more of the continually successful productions to be squeezed down into the theater’s small stage, only to bloom gloriously in the performance. Director/choreographer Chasta Hamilton moves a cast of 15 gracefully and jauntily through the show, which does not let up from opening to intermission and then reswarms in constant motion till the end.
Jen Leiner has designed a marvelously utilitarian set, which allows for entrances and exits from numerous places, and has uncommon access to a second floor in a city apartment and easily accommodates a subway, an office, and a hospital. And Elizabeth Anderson’s costumes run the gamut from totally black skin-tights to Las Vegas glitzy razzle dazzle, with nuns’ habits and everyday street clothing in-between.
Lighting effects by Jeremy Diamond dramatize the ghostly story, and the set changes — which happen with alacrity — do so under low lighting. But the canned music, which we assume was part of the rights package of the show, and backs all the dances and songs, is a bit louder than necessary, sometimes covering the lyrics of songs.
Sam Wheat, the ghost of the story, who can’t quite make it out of this world, is played by John Millsaps, who makes a fine accounting of his character in the role. His angst about Sam’s dilemma, and his determination to protect Molly are amply displayed.
Lauren Bamford ably portrays Molly Jensen, Sam’s fiancée. Bamford’s voice and acting are equally fine as she plays a young woman who cannot move on with her life, and sings the duet with Sam of “Unchained Melody.” Bamford also does wonderful work on her solo on “With You.”
Carl, Sam’s co-worker and friend, is given us by Jonathan Rand, who conjures up a very believable desperation when things start falling apart for him. And Tina Morris-Anderson shines as Oda Mae Brown, the seer/psychic who was phony until Sam comes along, and she suddenly discovers the “gift” that she inherited from her mother and grandmother. Morris-Anderson is sprightly, full-voiced, bursting with energy and spirit, and leads “I’m Outta Here” with verve and little restraint.
Willie Lopez and the Hospital Ghost are played by Jarrett Bennett, who makes a wonderful bad guy, as well as a direct and informative “good ghost” who helps Sam understand what his status in reality is now.
The dance ensemble is excellent; and Destiny McNeill stands out with her high energy, winning smile, and excellent moves.
The Subway Ghost, who teaches Sam a lot about being dead-but-not-dead, rapping his way beautifully through the lesson, is done excellently by Samuel Walker.
NRACT’s production of Ghost: The Musical played to a full house Friday night. We expect that that will be case for the rest of the run.
SECOND OPINION: May 6th Raleigh, NC Spectrum Central NC News preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/in-depth-interview/2017/05/25/in-depth–ghost-the-musical.html; and May 24th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/ghost-the-musical/Event?oid=5893503. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the May 27th review by Shannon Plummer-White, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/05/ghost-the-musical-at-nract-is-haunting/.)
The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents GHOST: THE MUSICAL at 3 p.m. May 28, 8 p.m. June 2 and 3, 3 p.m. June 4, 8 p.m. June 9 and 10, and 3 p.m. June 11 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Food Lion Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $20 Friday and Saturday and $17 Sunday.
Ghost (1990 film): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099653/ (Internet Movie Database), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/76186/Ghost/ (TCM Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_(1990_film) (Wikipedia).
Ghost the Musical (2011 West End and 2012 Broadway musical): http://www.ghostthemusical.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/ghost-the-musical-490919 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_the_Musical (Wikipedia.
Glen Ballard (music and lyrics): http://www.glenballard.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/glen-ballard-490928 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Ballard (Wikipedia).
Dave Stewart (music and lyrics): http://davestewart.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/dave-stewart-490927 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_A._Stewart (Wikipedia).
Bruce Joel Rubin (book and lyrics): ), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/bruce-joel-rubin-490926 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Joel_Rubin (Wikipedia).
Chasta Hamilton (Raleigh, NC director): https://www.facebook.com/chastahamiltoncalhoun (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.