On Stage: Ghost the Musical

Having never seen the movie Ghost, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ghost the Musical, now playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.

Rob Mills and Jemma Rix in Ghost the Musical. Photo Jeff Busby.

Rob Mills and Jemma Rix in Ghost the Musical.*

What I discovered was an entertaining, albeit sometimes sad night at the theatre.
Providing the entertainment were some amazing high-tech stage illusions and strong performances by the cast. The melancholy came from the story line – after all, Ghost is the story about a lover who dies! But there were also some very humorous scenes.
Ghost tells of artist Molly (Jemma Rix) and banker Sam (Rob Mills) who have just moved into their dream New York loft. On returning from a night out Sam is killed in a botched mugging. Caught between this world and the next, Sam persists as a ghost and then discovers Molly is in danger from co-worker Carl (David Roberts), who ordered his murder. Sam tries unsuccessfully to communicate with Molly and in desperation turns to phoney psychic Oda Mae Brown (Wendy Mae Brown).

Wendy Mae Brown

Wendy Mae Brown

The performance of Brown was one of the standouts on opening night. Her singing and comic timing were wonderful. Rix and Mills also gave strong performances, with Rix showing why she is one of Australia’s top theatrical performers. Roberts is also very good as the deceitful Carl.
Without doubt the special effects are a major highlight of the show. These illusions see Sam’s ghost walking through a closed door, people being thrown around a “moving” train and objects flying into space.
The show also expertly uses video technology to create the background for a number of scenes – including the streets of Manhattan.

Jemma Rix and the cast of Ghost the Musical.

Jemma Rix and the cast of Ghost the Musical.

The music, played by a seven piece band,  includes `old’ songs – such as Unchained Melody – and new songs written by Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics and pop/rock song maker Glen Ballard. Songs included love ballads, pop, rock, blues, soul and gospel offerings. A number, presented by an enthusiastic ensemble, were loud and made extensive use of flashing lights – something which seemed to prove most popular with the younger members of the audience. And that’s who Ghost is most likely to appeal to – the young and the romantic!  At the same time the special effects are so impressive there’s something for most theatre goers.
Ghost is playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre until March 12. It’s on at Sydney’s Theatre Royal from March 18 and Perth’s Crown Perth from May 21.  Visit the website for more details on ticketing.

*All photographs by Jeff Busby.

Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Ghost in Melbourne on February 6 as a guest of the producers.

Other live shows in Melbourne include Fiddler on the RoofLadies in Black and Georgy Girl – the Seekers Musical

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