I was invited last night to see a performance of Ghost: The Musical, to be followed by a special bloggers' night talk-back with the cast. Awkwardly enough, the show's closing date of August 18 was announced hours before the show. I assumed the talk-back would be canceled, sparsely attended or zipper-lipped, but it was none of those things in spite of the depressing news.
The show itself was not for me. I had seen a preview and been impressed with some of the songs as presented in a sort of concert form, but the story is just too maudlin for my taste, the lyrics too facile and the show overall too audio-visually messy, overpowered by nifty but hollow projections and technical effects. (People rising into heaven or descending into hell, passing through solid objects, levitating in moving subways.)
But to focus on the good, I must say the cast of Ghost is spookily talented. Leading lady Caissie Levy, banishing memories of the movie's zombie-like Demi Moore to another plane of existence, has a scarily powerful voice, her leading man Richard Fleeshman has heart and matinee-idol looks to match his own strong vocals and Da'Vine Joy Randolph more than fills Whoopi Goldberg's (tacky) shoes with both her hilarious line readings and her gutsy belting. Especially impressive is Bryce Pinkham as the traitorous friend. The story's so well-worn you know from square one that he's a baddie, but Pinkham makes you forget that, he's so charming (until his character makes being charmed impossible!)—he performs with great intensity.
The songs just are not there for me, but "You", an aching ballad sung by Levy, could have been an instant classic and Top 40 radio hit in another time and place.
And all of this struck me in spite of having to smell the positively rank pits of the, um, young lady next to me throughout the show and having to listen to the bossy babbling of the self-possessed girl behind me, who during one romantic series of projections showing the leads making love asked the immortal question, "Is that a butt?" (And was it ever!)
At the talk-back, someone asked right away about the closing notice I posted Levy and Pinkham's response earlier. I also got to ask them what was hardest for them to adapt to from a technical standpoint, which Fleeshman answered and which Pinkham turned into the equally interesting direction of how they were able to step into the shoes of such famous actors in such famous roles:
Afterward, everyone posed happily for photos, even if on the inside I'm sure they were—as Pinkham admitted—struggling with the show's own theme, the need to let go. It was oddly inspiring, enough to make you believe, if not in ghosts, then in team spirit.