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'Ghost: The Musical' on Broadway: What did critics think?

April 24, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
(AP Photo/The Hartman Group,…)

“Ghost,” the hit movie starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, has been resculpted for Broadway. The movie-turned-musical opened Monday night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in a special effects-heavy production that takes audiences from the streets of New York to an unsettling afterlife.

The staged story doesn’t stray far from the 1990 film: Molly is a love-struck artist while her boyfriend, Sam, a banker, is less inclined to return her sentiments, at least verbally. Sam is shot and killed in a robbery, but with the help of a psychic, the couple can continue their affair while Sam waits in spiritual limbo.

The book and lyrics are by Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for the movie’s screenplay. Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart, half of the ‘80s synth-pop duo the Eurythmics, composed the poppy score.

The two leads are played by Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy, who were imported along with the show that opened last summer in London’s West End.

The reviews from New York are skeptical, with critics having trouble believing in "Ghosts."

Charles Isherwood of the New York Times wrote that a series of technical difficulties, which brought down the curtain for nearly half an hour, were perhaps brought on by ghosts from plays past "roused from their posthumous slumbers to make a little mischief, aghast at the dreary digital spectacle taking place." He continued that the show, which "relies mostly on elaborate video imagery, modestly ingenious special effects," is overall "flavorless and lacking in dramatic vitality."

Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones also panned the play, writing that “there is so much wrong with'Ghost,' it's hard to know where to start.” He added that, as leads, Fleeshman and Levy “lack gravitas, maturity, sensuality and accessible emotions” and the “dramaturgical holes gape wide…. ‘Ghost’ is a head-scratcher in all the wrong ways." 

Howard Shapiro, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, praised the special effects, writing that the projections by Jon Driscoll and design by Rob Howell make for “an astounding marriage of live theater and high-tech." Shapiro added, while the second act becomes "repetitious," the play recovers thanks to the "talented" leads.

USA Today's Elysa Gardner called the special effects a "sensory assault” and added that sentimental lyrics about love and loss "are more likely to make you laugh than cry."

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