Technology takes the life out of ‘Ghost the Musical’
SCHENECTADY “Ghost” was a box-office smash in 1990. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone today who isn’t at least somewhat familiar with the story, even if romantic dramas aren’t their thing.
Based on the popularity of the movie, making a musical of it would seem a good idea; after all, it has name recognition, it’s a romantic story and there’s already music built into the plot.
However, based on the production currently on stage at Proctors, while it might have seemed a good idea, sometimes things are not what they seem.
‘Ghost the Musical’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady
WHEN: Through September 20
HOW MUCH: $20-$80
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
The plot remains the same, which should please the purists. Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) and Molly (Katie Postotnik) are a young couple, very much in love, who have just moved in together. When Sam is killed in what seems to be a random act of violence, Molly has trouble moving on — as does Sam, whose ghost is stuck on our plane, unable to interact with the living.
Enter Oda Mae Brown (Carla R. Stewart), a storefront psychic who doesn’t think she has any true abilities — except when Sam speaks, it turns out she can hear him.
The show itself is very tech-heavy. It relies on illusion; a scrim to project images upon; a subway car that seems to spin; objects that seem to lift themselves. The tech actually went quite smoothly, which is impressive with that much going on.
However, that’s the problem: There’s too much going on. When you see trick after trick, you become inured to them. The set is too busy, and the story gets put by the wayside — and this should be about the story of Sam and Molly and how their love conquers all.
The songs seemed extraneous and not very well-written. They were also very hard to hear. The band was very loud; at one point, the three leads were all singing at once, which might have been nice, harmoniously, had I been able to hear a single one of their voices.
The actors did as well as they could with a show that was very clearly not about them. Postotnik was a very watchable Molly; she has stage presence and a very likable air, and her scenes were full of life. Douglas’ Sam, however, was the exact opposite — lacking in charisma, to the point where one had to wonder why someone as filled with life as Molly would be with him.
Stewart’s Oda Mae Brown stole the show, much as Whoopi Goldberg stole the movie — she was the comic relief, and did an admirable job with it. When things were getting too stale on stage, it was always nice to know a scene with her was coming up.
It’s a disappointment that the show itself was such a mess — perhaps it says something about putting a little too much technology in live theater, to the point that we lose the humanity, the stories that we go to see? If you’re trying to decide whether to go, the movie remains the better option, even with special effects more than 20 years out of date.