Opening night at the New Theatre and the foyer and auditorium was buzzing. As the city of Oxford filled with grotesque ghouls and sexy witches, the theatre-goers were preparing for a different kind of ghostly treat on All Hallows Eve.
Having listened to a playlist devised by the team at the New Theatre including songs from the original recording of Ghost – The Musical interspersed with tracks from various Girls Aloud albums, I was disappointed that one of the lead roles, Molly, was not to be performed by Sarah Harding, of the aforementioned girl group as originally billed. Added to that, the actor advertised to play our leading male, the eponymous Ghost, was also unable to do the show. No mention of illness or excuse, but no matter, we were still looking forward to a spellbinding show.
And we were not disappointed. The combination of Bruce Joel Rubin's original book and collaboration from Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard (award-winning producer/songwriter) on the music and lyrics, Ghost – The Musical is a powerhouse of a show. The quartet of main players, Sam, Molly, Carl and Oda Mae Brown were performed with an unlimited energy by Sam Ferriday, Kelly Hampson, Ethan Bradshaw and Jacqui Dubois. With interesting and contemporary choreography from the company, the streets of New York were brought to life in this energetic show. The staging was both complex and elegant, sliding effortlessly on and off stage from the wings and the roof and allowing the audience to 'suspend their disbelief' just as Molly is debating after her first encounter with the fraudulent psychic, Oda Mae Brown.
The voices of the two main performers (Ferriday and Hampson) were phenomenal; how they can keep this standard night after night is beyond me and a source of great jealousy. But Oda Mae Brown's character did not fail to steal the show, with Dubois's amazingly soulful singing and hilarious comedic performance, one that Whoopi Goldberg would be proud of, having set a high standard in the original film.
With beautiful music and heartbreaking songs mixed with aggressive trickery from the Subway Ghost and plenty of laughs from the relationship between Sam and Oda Mae, this is a show I would beg everyone to go and see. Perfect to warm up the soul on a cold winter's night.