Ghost: Should it Stay or Go?
Date: 26 June 2012
Ghost the Musical got off to a brilliant start when the show had its world premiere here in Manchester, as critics were largely positive, audiences were enthusiastic and the show was a sell out for its entire run. Moving to London the show started off strong, reviews however were mixed but the ticket sales for the first 6 months seemed to imply that the show would be haunting the West End for years to come, skip forward a year and the show has posted its closing notice.
Many are asking how this could have happened. The show seemed like a sure thing and personally I loved the musical, sure it had a couple of clunky songs and a few moments that could have been cut but overall it was a completely thrilling night in the theatre. With rubbish such as We Will Rock You and Thriller Live still running in London it seems a shame that a musical that really set out to push the live stage experience forward is about to close.
I wish Ghost could keep running, I think it deserves to keep remain in London. Whilst the musical was based on a film it was still a brand new British born musical, and let’s be honest, our reputation with musicals is all but dead (thank god for Matilda).
This is not just a film come stage show, it is an imaginative presentation of what you can do on a live stage if you really put the thought and effort in. The set and lighting for this show are nothing less than extraordinary, an eye popping spectacle that simply takes your breath away. The folks at Ghost have attempted things on a stage that have never been done before. Some critics accused the show of being just spectacle and no heart, but the few times I have seen the show the audience responded emotionally to the simple love story played out in front of sweeping technology, I rarely cry at musicals and yet I did the few times I watched this.
The music of Ghost was a mixed bag, however I found much of it stunning with songs like "With You" turning out to be one of the best ballads I have heard in a musical in the past decade. Some critics criticised the score for containing too many ballads, however with the subject matter I’m not really sure what else they could have done, and as much as I like Matilda. I would much rather listen to the music from Ghost any day.
What makes the closure of this show so sad is that there is a good chance we will never see it on the stage again in the way you can see it now in London. The set can’t tour as it is, the effects would have to be redesigned and say what you want about Ghost but visually this show is incredible. The other worrying thing is that producers took a chance on this show in the UK and invested a lot of money in a new musical, something UK producers had stopped doing for a long time, it would not surprise me at all if those same producers run back to invest in lower budget jukebox musicals and small revivals again and anything inventive and ground breaking will not be attempted here again for a while.
For me Ghost is a show that takes you somewhere exciting visually and yet manages to attach emotionally, those two things are rare, big budget with a beating heart beneath all the technology, the West End is already a truly uninspiring place for musicals (jukebox shows and American imports) and has now just become a little more uninspiring.
Sadly for for the show, its troubles don’t look set to end in London since the Broadway production is not doing well and could announce closing any day now. Why has this musical not caught on? Who knows, but the fact it did not pains me. I will say I thought the advertising campaigns for this show were lazy and fairly formulaic, if you have a show like Ghost that costs a fortune to run each week then you need to do everything you can to promote it. Whatever the reason for the show's closure, I for one am sad to see it happen. If the producers are smart they will film the show and get it released on DVD.
I hope the cast and crew realise that what they did was change how musicals could be created in the future, it offered something new and took chances, let’s hope that more shows do the same and don’t get put off by the demise.
The final slap in the face for Ghost, though is that the show kicking it out of its London theatre is Viva Forever.....a jukebox musical based on the songs of the Spice Girls!...... for that reason alone, Ghost deserves a place in London.
- Craig Hepworth
I too saw Ghost
in Manchester and found it to be an enjoyable experience. I loved the performances, particularly that of Caissie Levy
who I thought was stunning and has a great rock voice which suited the show perfectly. Richard Fleeshman also proved how he has come of age as a performer.
Some of the songs were angsty and enjoyable to listen to. And the effects were interesting but at times, the show reminded me of a really good flashy presentation. The heart was there but it did feel that beneath all of the smoke and mirrors, one could not escape the fact that the musical slavishly followed the film version in terms of dialogue. Granted, it is better than Dirty Dancing
- but the saviour of British musicals?
There are too many juke box shows doing the rounds and Thriller
are examples which continue to pack em in whatever critics say. But they are incredibly easy to market as you get what's on the tin. With Ghost
, it's hard to know how to pigeonhole it. Do you promote the effects, Dave Stewart's connection or the film link itself?
Sadly for this show - it followed many other film to stage adaptations such as Sister Act
and got caught up in the mix. But there's no getting away from it - overall the score plods along, the dialogue needs changing so that it's not a photocopy of the film, the subway scenes feel like an exercise in "look what we can do now" and apart from the look of the piece - it does nothing new with the material.
And don't get me started on the "Ball and Chain" sequence which many expected to be go, following the previews. The show is earnest and needs an element of fun to stand out in a crowded market. The ending of the show is overdone and again needed cutting slightly. All of these elements do not mean the show should leave. But it is not a classic musical.
enjoyable and worth seeing before it closes? No doubt about that. But is it closing too soon? It's sad for the cast and the producers and fans but it is no match for the likes of Jerry Springer the Opera
- a truly great show that went way too soon and did something truly original with the source material.
- Glenn Meads
Any opinions expressed above do not represent the view of Whatsonstage.com nor any of its staff or contributors beyond the bylined author.
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