You take a beloved movie like Ghost, starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, make it into a musical stage production with music and lyrics by Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard (Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrissette) and add lots of visual special effects and what do you end up with? Ghosts.
By halfway through the Houston show at the Hobby Center last night, it was mostly ghosts left in the audience. Everyone else had walked out. Even with the normal promotional hype that preceded the show, word had already gotten out that the production was just not up to snuff. In the world of professional performing arts, these are the kinds of shows that hurt the industry. I’d compare it to the anticipation of exploring a trendy, new restaurant only to find out it was no better than going to a Bennigan’s or Chili’s. Theater audiences are too smart to fill up on these kinds of calories. Plus, patrons lose trust in the management and the reputation of the establishment is damaged. If you promote quality then it needs to be a quality product. Ghost, The Musical, was not a quality presentation.
There was no catchy song that emerged from the show besides the already worn out Righteous Brothers tune, Unchained Melody. The acting was acceptable though not totally engaging. The best performances were the humorous skits by the Fortune Teller and her two black assistants. Worst of all was the female lead when she sang. She wasn’t bad but she wasn’t great, which is what I expect. Plus the volume of her voice (blame the sound engineer, too) became piercing when she hit her high notes. During the intermission, most of the talk in the lobby was just that – people had to cover their ears when she sang. Thus, they left and didn’t stay for ACT II.
Even the fabulous visual effects of the play just couldn’t raise it up enough to redeem the struggling show. As I watched the projections, the computerized light curtain, the smoke, the curtains and the stage lights, it felt like a Las Vegas show that was trying too hard entertain casino patrons who’ve lost all their gambling money and decided to take in a cheap show.
It was sad. Most of the applause could better be described as a ‘golf clap’. Folks walked out and filled the isles as the actors came out at the end for their final bows. Even more telling, people didn’t even turn around to see the actors come out. They just left.
Go watch the movie instead. You’ll love it!