Review: Ghost, New Theatre

Everyone knows Ghost as a classic. The iconic 1990 film not only catapulted Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze even further into the public eye, where they’ve long enjoyed a reputation as among the industry’s biggest talents, but arguably also set the pace for romantic movies for years to come.

So understandably, the announcement of it being adapted into a musical, touring UK theatres from launching in London in September to wrapping up next April in Aylesbury, as well as reaching everywhere in between, including Edinburgh, Manchester and of course here in Cardiff, was met with enthusiasm and intrigue. While this isn’t the title’s first time in theatrical form, with past examples including a run starring Coronation Street’s Richard Fleeshman, with any new production potential ticket-buyers will ponder how smoothly the transition from screen to stage will end up.

So, off I went to its New Theatre Cardiff debut last night (17th October) not entirely sure which route it would go down. Would its emphasis be on the visuals; the singing (it is a musical, after all); the spoken storyline; or conjure up another focal point?

Well, the multi-faceted side of my personality was satisfied with the verdict that it encompassed all of these. The show fluctuated between slow-paced dialogue and energetic song and dance, punctuated with the odd comedic line, but with the overall consensus of romance and tragedy. When Sam is murdered, his doting partner Molly is left unable to move on, and, while she doesn’t initially realise it, Sam is experiencing the same – trapped in a strange state between life and death before eventually finding solace. Throw a whole range of other factors into the equation, from some questionable psychic aid to discovering fellow leading character Carl’s true motives, and ta-da – you have a production certainly worth seeing.

While my pre-teen self would vehemently claim otherwise, perhaps a performer wouldn’t want to be associated solely with Girls Aloud forever, and Sarah Harding, who took on the most demanding role of the night in the form of Molly, well and truly shook off any lingering connotations. Her voice is best-known for producing a pop anthem or two, but here she fully embraced the experiment of singing more operatically while maintaining a lengthy performance both energetic and moving.

Sarah may have dominated media depiction of the tour – admittedly, not always for the most positive of reasons – but she’s not the only cast member worth mentioning. Andy Moss, best known from Hollyoaks fame, efficiently burst the soap bubble (terrible pun, sorry), in putting his heart and soul into the role of Sam, the titular ghost himself. Meanwhile, although the character of Carl isn’t on the receiving end of much audience support, the same doesn’t apply to this actor, Sam Ferriday, who’s lesser-known than the aforementioned two but whose previous stage credits include Jersey Boys and Over the Rainbow, thanks to his convincing efforts in replicating a part which could potentially be challenging.

I also have to single out Jacqui Dubois. Whoopi Goldberg provides some pretty big shoes to fill, and obviously no stage version over two decades on is going to be a clone of a Hollywood movie, but she makes a commendable attempt in giving Oda-Mae justice. On the whole, the thing is pretty deep, but an injection of vibrancy, often courtesy of her, keeps the audience engaged.

Having now seen it, I don’t agree with the production’s criticisms – although as Cardiff was its sixth venue, perhaps it’s settled into it and found its feet. Special mention to New Theatre themselves too – the entire team consistently work hard, whether in terms of special effects, music or just general ambience – so thank you!

Intrigued? Ghost is running at Cardiff’s New Theatre until Saturday, so why not embrace this month’s Halloween spirit and give it a go(st)?

by Ellie Philpotts