Cora Alexander

Touted as the ‘most romantic musical of all time’, Ghost: The Musical is adapted from Bruce Joel Rubin’s hit 1990 film about a young New York couple, Sam and Molly, whose charmed life is shattered when a mugger kills Sam. What follows is by turns moving, comic, tense and sexy, as the lingering Sam tries to warn his grieving girlfriend about a dangerous criminal, with the help of an eccentric psychic. It’s easy to see why Ghost is such a fan-favourite, with its likeable characters, poignant romantic plot and high-stakes jeopardy. This Easter Term, CUMTS’ production makes a praiseworthy go of reproducing all of these features.

As the romantic leads, Alex Hancock as Sam and Maryam Dorudi as Molly deliver some believable stage chemistry, although – it has to be said – without the physical intensity of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in the original film (the famously phallic pottery scene returns here unsexed). Instead they open the show as an earnest, if initially slightly colourless couple who like to support and sing to each other. For me, it’s when they’re separated by Sam’s death that their performances really come alive.

"Sound and lighting are orchestrated very effectively"

Increasingly, and especially in the second act, Hancock translates his easy stage presence into powerful expressions of rage and distress, carrying much of the show’s jeopardy and pace, while the wide-eyed Molly becomes a convincingly heartbroken study in grief. Dorudi’s pitch-perfect belt is largely to thank for this, with an arresting rendition of ‘Nothing Stops Another Day’ elevating the second act. Her vocal accomplishment is matched by that of Hancock, as well as Jonathan Iceton’s performance as an impressively oily, desperate villain. The three round off the first act with a punchy ‘Suspend My Disbelief’/ ’I Had A Life’.

Further notable performances come from Rory Russel as the Hospital Ghost (played with standout comic and vocal flair); Joseph Folley as the Subway Ghost (his slam poetry number ‘Focus’ feels a bit weird, but he tackles it admirably), and Louisa Chatterton as a confident Louise. Where we might expect Sue Warren to rule the stage as the iconic Oda Mae, she gives the character a quieter presence, but still draws a lot of laughs. On the whole, the lead characters do feel a bit gentle (although this may be partly mic volume), which could leave the stage un-commanded. But the well-executed supporting roles, as well as some surprisingly engaging chemistry (especially between Oda Mae and Sam), supplement this well.


Mountain View

The Plague review

Where CUMTS’ Ghost falls slightly short is more to do with lack of polish. You can feel this in lengthy breaks between scenes, dance numbers which don’t have the lustre we’re used to from CUMTS and, especially towards the end, a somewhat hasty delivery of the moments we’d expect to have a big, drawn-out climactic impact. These scenes, such as Oda Mae duping the bank, the haunting of Carl’s office and the standoff in Sam and Molly’s apartment, feel a little rushed, and therefore their dramatic potential not fully tapped. It must be noted, though, that James Ireland and Ruth Harvey’s sound and lighting are orchestrated very effectively, enhancing atmosphere, smoothing scene changes and illuminating the divide between the earthly and the spooky throughout.

Ghost: The Musical is comprised of strong performances, savvy production techniques and much of the gloopy nineties New York-ness that fans love. It doesn’t quite manage the flair of other recent CUMTS spectacles, and at times it feels like it’s holding back on electricity. But as a musical it’s more than entertaining, and as a fan-favourite romance, successfully moving and heart-warming.

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