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Sharon D. Clarke On...Ghost

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Sharon D Clarke has been a judge on the BBC's Last Choir Standing, had a long running part in Holby City and has starred in We Will Rock You, Chicago and Once On This Island for which she received an Olivier nomination. Her powerhouse vocals were also put to good use in the band Nomad, particularly their biggest hit (I Wanna Give You) "Devotion."

Sharon is about to star as Oda Mae Brown in the highly anticipated musical version of the hit film Ghost, which opens in Manchester at the end of this month. We caught up with her to see what the show has in store for believers.

Many are critical of film to stage adaptations. Do you think Ghost will make them eat their words?

If you loved the movie, then you won't be disappointed with the musical. We have the original screen writer Bruce Joel Rubin writing our show. No one knows these characters and their journeys better than Bruce. Ghost the Movie had people crying in the aisles, all that emotion is still there, and a musical heightens those emotions even further. Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart's score is funky, sweeping, melodious, funny, haunting and a pleasure to sing.

Paul Kieve is at the top of his game with regard to magic and illusions, our Director Matthew Warchus brings out the heart of the story with simple truth ingeniously combined with state of the art technology that never overshadows the piece, but fluidly enhances it. We have a talented Creative Team, the cast is 100% committed, vibrant and proud to be bringing this premiere to life. The crux of Ghost is Love, and a lot of love has gone into this production and if the audience feels that Love and 'Believes' then we will have all done our jobs to the best of our abilities.

Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar for playing your character. Do you feel pressured or have you simply put the film version out of your mind?
I remember the movie very well, I loved it, but I haven't watched it for a long time and won't do so now. I want to make the character my own and don't want to be influenced by the wonderful Ms Goldberg. I don't feel pressured as the world of musicals is very much my world and I'm very comfortable there.

How close to the film is the stage musical?
With a few minor tweaks for the stage, you are essentially getting the movie on stage. Bring your tissues.

You are known for your great vocals. Do you have any show stopping tunes to sing?
I have two numbers in the show. One in each act. The first is when you first meet Oda Mae, she's in full flow with her clairvoyance scam with her sisters Clara & Louise, played by Lisa Davina Philip & Jenny Fitzpatrick, the second is after Oda Mae leaves the bank with the 10 million dollar cheque. Both are funky uptempo numbers that will have you grooving and smiling.

The plot explores grief and the possibility that there is an afterlife. Do you believe?
I'm a great believer. Energy doesn't die it transmutes, It's still out there interacting with us, and living on in our hearts.

You have starred in some great musicals. Apart from this one - what has been your favourite so far and why?
There are a few faves for completely different reasons, I loved Killer Queen in We Will Rock You though. It's a real buzz being part of an original cast, and seeing a show come together from scratch, and I don't often get cast as a 'baddie' so that was the most fun, also Queen’s music is so theatrical  and a joy to sing.

Oda Mae develops great chemistry with Molly and Sam and the piece progresses. How have you tried to capture that with Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman?
Caissie, Richard, Andy (Langtree) and myself recorded a promotional taster album at Abbey Road Studios last November, we then launched the show at Abbey Road and the Royal Exchange Manchester, this was an exciting time for us and gave us the opportunity to cement a fantastic bond between us. I feel that that has given us a natural chemistry that we don't have to work at, it just is.

Is the iconic potter's wheel scene in the show and what is your favourite scene?
Yes, that scene is there. My favourite is actually Caissie's song "With You", it sums up with beautiful simplicity, the emotional  maelstrom  of losing a loved one. Caissie sings it with such tender understated beauty. Rich and I have a scene directly after it and have only managed once, not to be in tears when we come on.

With so many shows to choose from, why should audiences see Ghost?
If you love a heartwarming love story, a great script, on point vocals, songs that make you groove, laugh and cry, stunning dance sequences, illusions that leave you wondering ' how did they do that?', then come. If you want to be moved, believe in the power of love, and are not afraid to cry, then bring your tissues, come along to Ghost and get ready to 'Believe'.

Sharon D.Clarke was speaking to Glenn Meads.

Ghost runs at the Manchester Opera House from 28 March - 14 May before opening at the Piccadily Theatre, London from 22 June. More details can be found at the official website.

See our interview with Richard Fleeshman here and Caissie Levy here.


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