REVIEW BY NICHOLAS PONTOLILLO OF BROADWAY WORLD
CMPAC once again knocks another musical out of the park with their current production of Ghost the Musical. The amazing cast and creative team of this production really breathe life into a show that is often viewed as lifeless.
Ghost is based on the 1990 Oscar-winning blockbuster film of the same name. The story revolves around Sam Wheat, a banker and his artistic girlfriend Molly. After a romantic dinner, Sam is killed in what appears to be a mugging. While stuck in limbo, Sam learns that the mugging was a pre-meditated attack and now, with the help of a phony medium, must save his girlfriend from the same killer that took his life.
The book is written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Academy Award for writing the film’s screenplay. The musical is identical to the film, often times line-for-line. It really was like watching a live reading of the screenplay. The show’s score is by music legends Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Glen Ballard (Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, Michael Jackson’s “The Man in the Mirror”); Rubin also had a hand in writing some lyrics. You would think with two legendary songwriters like Stewart and Ballard, the score would be more memorable instead of rudimentary. I didn’t come out of the theater whistling any of the show’s tunes with the exception of the classic song “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers; “Unchained Melody” became synonymous with the film as it was used in its infamous “pottery” scene. Once again, the song does make an appearance in the stage adaptation. When the show opened on Broadway, most critics were in awe of the show’s visual effects by Paul Kieve, Rob Howell, Jon Driscoll and Hugh Vanstone.
Did CMPAC nail the show’s visual effects? They absolutely did! This production’s visual effects are stunning. The last time I saw projections properly used on stage was Dear Evan Hansen. I’m thrilled to say like Dear Evan Hansen, CMPAC’s Ghost’s visual effects and projections added depth to the production and at times took my breath away. I tip my hat to the creative team: John Mazzarella (projections), Alison Weinberger (lighting designer), Patrick Grossman (director, set designer) and Jenn Hocker (Set construction.
The cast is also top notch! Bobby Peterson and Laura Laureano are both charming as Sam and Molly. Laureano has a truly beautiful voice and captures the emotion in all of her songs especially “With You”. Peterson’s vocals soared in his ballads (“Three Little Words”; “I Had a Life”), but unfortunately struggled with the infamous “Unchained Melody”. To be fair, it is one of the hardest songs to sing. While both Peterson and Laureano were great, the true stars were the supporting actors. Briggs Houston is strong; both as an actor and singer. It’s too bad Stewart and Ballard couldn’t give his character Carl a solid solo in the show. I found myself wanting more every time Mr. Houston was on stage because of his immense talent. The true tour de force of this show is the brilliant Crystal Fauntleroy as Oda Mae Brown. Much like Whoopi Goldberg did for the film, Ms. Fauntleroy steals the show. Her comedic timing is perfect; she nails the comedy in each and every one of her lines. Not only is she hilarious, but she also hits notes into the stratosphere with her stirring singing voice. Ms. Fauntleroy has a show-stopping gospel-tinged number in Act 1 called “Are You a Believer?”. She performs this number with the impressive Chantele Sterling and Tiara Solorzano. As soon as I heard this trio sing, all I could think was CMPAC better put a production of Dreamgirls on with these 3 stars prontissimo. That production would be the best theater experience for any Long Islander hands down.
Bottom line: If you are a fan of the 1990 film, you will love this show. Is it the best musical; no, but it is a magical, fun experience worth having. It is an exhilarating visual thrill ride led by an immensely talented cast. CMPAC’s production of Ghost is “Three Little Words” …FUN NIGHT OUT!
For more information or to order tickets please contact the Box Office at (631)218-2810 or visit www.cmpac.com