Ghost the Musical

by Jack Gardner
Friday May 2, 2014
Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik in ’Ghost’
Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik in ’Ghost’  (Source:Joan Marcus)

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts in association with Broadway Across America is currently presenting the national tour of "Ghost: The Musical."

Making musicals of major Hollywood movies is the in thing at the moment and "Ghost" is one of the more recent offerings in this genre. It tells the story of investment banker Sam who dies too soon leaving behind his girlfriend, Molly. Sam’s spirit refuses to leave until his murder is solved and his ghost enlists the help of the not terribly scrupulous psychic, Oda Mae Brown.

All in all, it is not great material to use to make a musical and the end result is weak. The cast of this tour works hard to overcome somewhat abysmal material and strong performances were given by Steven Grant Douglas as Sam, Katie Postotnik as Molly and Robby Haltiwanger as the villain, Carl.

The show, however, was completely stolen by Carla R. Stewart and her portrayal of Oda Mae. Stewart was a bright spot in a mostly unmemorable evening. Douglas, Postotnik and Haltiwanger were simply not given the material to be able to compete with Stewart.

While the book and the score both lack vibrancy and life, the same cannot be said of Ashley Wallen’s choreography. The dancing was athletic and well executed by this cast.

The stars of the show, hands down, are the projections designed by Jon Driscoll, the lighting designed by Joel Shier and the special effects achieved by the large team that worked to put together "Ghost: The Musical."

The visual effects of ghostly Sam walking through walls and doors were interesting and impressive, but ultimately cannot hold an audience’s attention alone for 2 and a half hours.

The visual effects of ghostly Sam walking through walls and doors were interesting and impressive.

This musical features music by former Eurythmics band member Dave Stewart and Grammy Award-winning producer Glen Ballard. The book was written by Bruce Joel Rubin who was also the author of the original screenplay.

With such a presteigous pedigree, "Ghost" creates a lot of expectations that it, ultimately, falls short of. The music is entirely unmemorable with the exception of the classic "Unchained Melody" written in 1955 by Hy Zorel and Alex North and interpolated frequently into the score This song was featured heavily in the movie as well.

0The first opening number, "More," while not musically memorable, featured some dazzling projections that turned it into a great portrayal of the fast, young and hip Hollywood idea of what a New York investment banker’s life is like.

The big "11 o’clock number" was given to the Oda Mae character. Entitled "I’m Outta Here," it should have been a snappy number, but the performance on opening night seemed a little slow and the most memorable things from the number were the intense Technicolor projections on the screen behind her and a horrible mink stole that she was required to wear.

The technical and special effects end up being the star of this somewhat lackluster and forgettable musical. At times, it seems like the producers must have thought, "well, if we dazzle them with enough tricks the audience won’t notice that the book is weak and the songs are unmemorable." Many times it seemed like the effect was on stage with no apparent dramatic reason. There is a whole sequence at the beginning of act two with umbrellas that, while it looks cool on stage, makes little sense dramatically.

It seems like the focus of the script is more on New York City fast track life rather than on the relationship between Sam and Molly. As an audience member one doesn’t really feel much empathy with Molly until the final moments of the show. Her character seems less developed on stage than in the original film. The truth is, at the end of the evening, this audience just doesn’t really care about any of the characters.

That being said, "Ghost" is not a bad evening of theater; it’s just not an especially good one. The technical effects are fun to watch and the dancing is good. You will leave humming "Unchained Melody" and maybe go home to watch the original movie on Netflix and recapture the magic made on film by Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, that the producers of this musical ultimately failed to bring to life on stage.

"Ghost: The Musical" runs through May 11 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. For tickets or information, visit

Jack Gardner has been producing theater in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale for the past 8 years. He has performed in operas, musicals and dramatic works as well as doing voice-over and radio work. Jack lives in South Florida with his three dogs.


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