Ghost the Musical

I WAS one of the few people who didn't care for Ghost when it was released in cinemas.

I found it mawkish and silly, (and inferior to British film Truly Madly Deeply, which was out the same year and dealt with a similar theme much more movingly), but, hey, what did I know? Ghost became the highest grossing film of 1990, and Whoopi Goldberg got an Oscar. And 20 years later came Ghost the Musical which, judging by the whoops, cheers and tears of a packed Alhambra audience last night, is just as beloved as the film.

A woman next to me sobbed through most of the second half. "Did you cry?" she asked, dabbing her eyes, as the show reached its tear-jerking finale. "No," I replied, feeling like I had a heart of stone.

It wasn't just that the story doesn't really move me. It was mainly that the music was so loud I couldn't tell what they were singing. There were several set pieces where two or three people were singing different parts of one number, and it was difficult to focus on any of them.

I'd have found it more moving if Molly, left bereft when her boyfriend Sam is killed in the street by a suspected mugger, had been given a tender, quiet moment in song, but all her numbers were big and belted out, and unfortunately left me cold.

Ghost the Musical is the story of Sam and Molly, a cute couple living in loved-up bliss in a Brooklyn loft apartment. Then one night Sam is suddenly killed and finds himself a lost spirit, caught between this world and the afterlife. Discovering that his murder is linked to dodgy dealings at the bank where he works, and fearing that Molly is in danger, he enlists the help of a phoney store-front medium, Oda Mae, to communicate with his sweetheart.

This refreshed production is nicely staged, against a New York skyline, and fans of the film will enjoy the romantic potter’s wheel

scene and the Righteous Brothers hit Unchained Melody, woven throughout the show. An original score by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Glen Ballard adds a new emotional element to the story, and I particularly enjoyed Life Turns On A Dime and Oda Mae's witty showpiece Are You A Believer?

An impressive cast is headed by Niall Sheehy as an endearing Sam and Rebekah Lowings, heartfelt as Molly. Jacqui Dubois lit up the stage as Oda Mae - who hilariously realises she's not the phoney psychic she'd set herself up as when Sam's presence leads to an amusing queue of spirits - and Sergio Pasquariello was excellent as Sam's shady friend, Carl. Great performances too from Lovonne Richards as the tormented Subway Ghost and James Earl Adair as the Hospital Ghost.

The death scenes, when spirits leave either for the light or the flames of hell, are goosebump moments, but by the end I didn't feel any differently about Sam and Molly's story than I did watching Ghost at the cinema three decades ago. It's just not for me.

Runs until Saturday.