Within the next year or so, there should be not one, but two new musicals based on Whoopi Goldberg films in the West End. Following Sister Act, which opens at the London Palladium this June (See News, 14 Nov 2008), 2010 will see the premiere of a new adaptation of Ghost, for which Goldberg won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Ghost will also mark the musical writing debut for the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, who is writing music and lyrics with Grammy Award winner Glen Ballard (whose credits include Alanis Morrissette’s album Jagged Little Pill). Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin is adapted his original screenplay. The premiere production is directed by Matthew Warchus and designed by Rob Howell (amongst many other projects, the pair’s last musical together was The Lord of the Rings).

Though no venue or exact dates have been confirmed, producers – David Garfinkle of New York’s Hello Entertainment and London-based Colin Ingram in association with Paramount Pictures – announced today that the Ghost is scheduled to open in the West End next year.

The original film of Ghost, a hit in 1990, starred Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore as Sam and Molly, a couple who are mugged walking home one night. Murdered in the attack, Sam is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next, and unwilling to leave Molly who remains in danger. With the help of a phoney psychic Oda Mae Brown (Goldberg on screen), Sam attempts to communicate with and save Molly.

Dave Stewart said today: “I am delighted to be working with my long-time collaborator Glen Ballard on this musical adaptation of Ghost. We are having an amazing time bringing some of our own musical sounds and styles to the score.”

Bruce Joel Rubin said: “Writing the movie Ghost has been, from conception to winning the Oscar (for Best Original Screenplay), the most joyful experience of my film career. The opportunity to give it new life as a musical, to see Molly and Sam come alive again, to see their souls soar with song, is proving to be one of the great experiences of my life. Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard have helped me reshape my words and added brilliant new lyrics of their own. We have become true collaborators. I am thrilled to be working with two of the most celebrated musicians of our time. Matthew Warchus brings a level of insight and invention to the play that excites me. I can see Ghost reborn through his eyes. Watching it emerge through Matthew’s vision, I know, is going to be a great gift to people who love the film and a true present to those who have never seen it.”

Matthew Warchus added: “Ghost was a landmark film. An unexpected combination of supernatural thriller and romance entwined. It is the kind of powerful, direct and uplifting story which lends itself well to being reborn as a musical. And the melodic strength and exciting driving energy of Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard's music will, I believe, provide exactly the right added engine to the narrative, playing a key role in refreshing the source material for a new audience.”

No casting has yet been announced for the stage version of Ghost. Others so far confirmed for the creative team are musical supervisors Christopher Nightingale and Tesse Gohl.

- by Terri Paddock