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8/12/12

One Last Lookback at "Ghost"

So, in a weird twist of fate, I am actually excited for the Fall. Maybe because seven or fifteen shows just vacated or will be vacating “The Great White Way,” we are lucky to have a Spring season quantity of shows opening in the span of a few months (instead of, like, within 20 minutes of each other). Count me in; I don’t like money.

One of the next dominoes to fall is one of my favorites from this past season – our beloved Ghost. Next to Lysistrata Jones, this was one of the more overlooked shows of the year. I was not always loving what I was seeing as I was taking the show in, but the show has its merits in the styling that make me think we will be seeing this type of show in the future.

MY FEELZ!!!
Let’s keep this bullet-pointed and classy – here we go!

-- In a point I am bound to belabor, the show is a technical masterpiece. Through the use of lighting and projection screens galore, it bumps up the effect of the show from watching it to living it. And the fact that lighting, often one of the more under designed aspects of a show, are an integrated fixture of the plot – i.e the spirits lit accordingly to look like spirits – is a brilliant idea not lost on me.

-- Really, the technical aspects drive the show because it is difficult to take in much of anything else. Not an exaggeration. It is like a graphic design college student on cocaine had his computer explode on the stage. An eighth (or a twelfth) of the show design more artfully deployed and the effect would come across more well-done instead of, “Okay, we get it; you like graphics!”

-- Part of my frustration from the styling overdose stems from the fact that…well, Ghost has a plot. A plot, might I add, that unfolds and is filled with tension and pathos throughout. Unlike a couple of other shows overloaded with suck, it did not need any distractions. The story was rich enough and while the score has only a few numbers to offer up, it is fine in the realm of things. Why undermine your own show?

-- Speaking of undermining, I generally liked the main principals through the shroud of effects. The key word being “principals” because the ensemble, in which most of them don’t even have a character, take up space and only further distract. Caissie Levy is FABULOUS and lovely in a would-have-been Tony nominee kind of way if she wasn’t up against so many strong women this year. Richard Fleeshman, at the helm of the show, doesn’t always hit the mark with some of his character’s more animated moments, but he obscures his thick British accent wonderfully. Yes, that matters because I am a bit of an accent snob (don’t act surprised).

-- Da’vine Joy Rudolph was a bit lost on me because her performance is like the clichéd joke it is. In a role that rewarded Whoopi Goldberg with an Oscar (and rightly so), Rudolph’s performance is less “commanding” and more “selfish” in an attention-seeking sort of way (not helping is her second act solo number, my least favorite number because of how obnoxious it is). Bryce Pinkham’s manic energy and creepiness comes through as it should...yeah.

With some editing, Ghost could have been a showstopper. Closing somewhat prematurely after an open-ended run (it ends on Sunday), the show provides entertainment on the most basic level with a creative achievement that was not found in any of its contemporaries. Not the highest praise in the world, but it is something.

BONUS – here are some fun facts to know about the show courtesy of a talkback with the cast and like, one creative person.

-- First off - and this is very important - Caissie Levy showed up and shut it down in a floor-length maxi-dress. We all could have just gone home right then and there; she keeps doing that, you guys.

-- And Hottie McAbs himself, Richard Fleeshman, was wearing a Henley-collared shirt, completely un-buttoned, revealing miles of toned, man cleavage. Even my pants were beginning to undo themselves; I would hate to be the custodian having to hose down the seats occupied by the other ladies.

-- The illusionist – hey, is that not the most coolest way to be billed ever – is Paul Keefe, who did the magic for the last three Harry Potter films. It’s a shame he is not talented.

-- The news of the show’s closing came on the night this talkback took place. Fortunately, everyone looked to be in okay spirits and were saying that much. I was secretly hoping someone would cause a scene and have an epic breakdown, proclaiming death to the world and saying about how much he loved his/her cast/crew. Maybe some other time or behind closed doors (videotaped, natch).

-- The show has four stage managers, three deck carpenters, a deck electrician, a sound mixer, a house electrician, a light board operator 14 people in wardrobe, 18 people in the pit…oh screw it; this show employed like all of Broadway. The light and techie people are just going to walk around, hoping to find something to illuminate and stuff.

-- Matthew Warchus, the show’s director, wanted everything to movie “cinematically” and to create “another dimension.” Really, didn’t notice…he was very subtle with those ideas.

-- The ensemble are upset that more people can’t enjoy the show once it ends its run (although a tour was announced for next year). Because that is where they get the best response every night – the theater-going audience. Group aww, everyone…awwwwwwwwwwww.


Tickets and Talkback provided by the production's marketing team.

Photo Credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes/Ghost: The Musical on Broadway

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