Spoiler-free review – Ghost the Musical – Picadilly Theater

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I was sure I was the only person in London who had not seen Ghost, and while I’m sure that’s not exactly true, I think it’s important that I write a review for those people out there who have not seen the movie, so that they can approach it with the kind of open-mindedness that I had when I went to the show. I therefore pledge that in this review I will give away no plot points you can’t figure out just from looking at the poster, because I believe it’s fun to go to a show and not know what is going to happen already. (I’ll do a more detailed review with plenty of info about the plot later for you aficionados.)

Right. So … Ghost is a musical … love is very important in it … and there is a ghost! (I don’t want to say who the ghost is because I didn’t even know THAT much when I went.) It’s set in New York, and while the movie was in 1990, the stage version seems pretty appropriate to now, with mild updating such as people using cell phones and digital cameras all of the time. I had some problems with some of the office scenes as the costuming was too London-like, but the subways and streets of Brooklyn were all done really well. I also didn’t have a single accent bobble, probably the first time I’ve seen a show set in America played by a (partially) English cast where I didn’t cringe at misprounounced vowels.

While I found the musical part of this show not really my cup of tea (the lyrics were just terribly simplistic and the tunes were all forgettable – a great vice like Caissie Levy has cannot fix this problem), the story itself was actually very compelling. I was actually on the edge of my seat during the first act and found myself really wondering what act two was going to bring – something which very rarely happens to me. The themes of love, sadness, revenge, loneliness, and regret transcended the “this is a movie adaptation that we can now convince people to pay people to watch on stage” and made for something which I think was much more universally appealing. In addition, there were GREAT special effects, which left me and my group of friends scratching our heads in a “how did they do it kind of way.” While I would never want to see a show for the effects, the important thing for this is that they were all done so quietly and seamlessly that it allowed the “magic” to happen and for you/me (“the audience”) to just enjoy the story that was happening without having that grumbly let-down of “did you see the mirror under the land speeder just then.” In fact, though, the special effects were SO good that I’m recommending it to two lighting designers as an excellent example of state-of-the-art design.

While I would have voted for stronger songs, I can’t deny that this show was enjoyable and that the audience seemed to have a really fantastic time – crying (for real!) at the sad parts, standing and cheering at the end. And I thought it was a good night out. Overall I’m predicting this show will be successful, and if you’re looking for a good evening with your girlfriends or out of town guests, this is a very good example of what you can do with a solid budget and a top quality cast. It’ll be running for a long time, I’m sure. Enjoy!

(This review is for a preview that took place on Monday, July fourth, 2011. Official opening is July 19th.)

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