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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Piccadilly Theatre  2011-2012

Ghost is a pretty good musical.

It has a strong story, attractive stars, some pretty good songs and interesting visuals. It isn't My Fair Lady, but it is value-for-money.

It's based, of course, on the very successful 1990 romantic film, with screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin adapting it for the stage and contributing lyrics to the music and lyrics of Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard.

You don't have to have loved the film (and who didn't?) to enjoy it, and those who loved the film will find nothing to disappoint and much to delight them in the musical.

For the uninitiated, a couple are happily in love when he is killed in what seems at first a random street robbery. His spirit remains, unable to communicate except through a charlatan medium who is as surprised as he that she actually has the gift.

Learning that his killing was not random and his girlfriend is in danger, he tries to protect her while also comforting her in her grief. 

Richard Fleeshman, known mainly from TV, and Caissie Levy, with Broadway credits, are both very attractive and able to communicate the innocence and simplicity of their love.

Levy is the stronger singer and gets the best songs in the show, 'With You' and 'Nothing Stops Another Day', both bluesy ballads to which she does full justice. 

The Whoopie Goldberg role of the medium has been re-imagined as a big-boned brassy black woman, a bit of a racial stereotype, but played full-blast by Sharon D. Clarke, who stops the show twice with her two big numbers. 

The rest of the score is serviceable, Matthew Warchus's direction is fluid, and the choreography by Ashley Wallen (with 'additional movement sequences' by Liam Steel) helps generate a New York City atmosphere by repeatedly filling the stage with rhythmically moving passers-by.

The set is dominated by Jon Driscoll's video projections, which may not be much more technically advanced than those in We Will Rock You ten years ago, but are used imaginatively, especially when the chorus of dancers is multiplied by having their images repeated behind them.

Illusionist Paul Kieve has provided a number of effective magical moments, generally involving the use of doubles or the unnoticed switch from live actors to projections.

There is much to laugh at, much that is clever, and even a few moments that might get you misty-eyed. It's not Sondheim, it's not even Lloyd Webber at his best. But it is a Good Night Out.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Ghost - Piccadilly 2011