From the Big Screen to the Creative Stage
There was quite a bit of buzz surrounding Drayton Entertainment’s plan to host the Canadian premiere of Ghost. How could you take the very popular 1990 movie with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg and attempt to reduce it for the stage? That was the question on all theatre-goers’ minds before the show.
Well, the production on stage at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse has quickly alleviated all those worries. Packing the entire story on the stage, the script has captured the essence of the movie, giving us all the suspense of a murder mystery, the thrill of the supernatural, and the laughs of a musical comedy.
The plot line follows that of the beloved movie. A young man, Sam, seems to be very much in love with his girlfriend, Molly. But Sam is shot and killed when he won’t hand his wallet over to a thief. Sam’s ghost remains on earth and learns that his best friend, Carl, staged the robbery to get Sam’s computer memory stick, which contains information from the bank where they both work. Carl is in cahoots with the murderer and is embezzling funds from the bank. Sam’s ghost is frustrated when he sees Carl cozying up to Molly in an effort to find the memory stick. Sam’s ghost tries to warn Molly, but of course, he can’t make her hear or see him. So the ghost goes to a medium, Oda Mae, to get her to take a message to Molly. Oda Mae is a fake, scamming people into paying her to talk to their dead relatives, but Sam convinces her he is a legitimate ghost. Eventually, Molly listens to the unlikely messages from Oda Mae, and action is taken to uncover Carl’s dirty dealings. Wherever the plot veers from the movie to fit the stage, the story is actually improved.
Graham Scott Fleming is perfect as Sam. You will recognize him as Charlie Price, the star of Kinky Boots. Fleming is the master of performing anguished songs, and he breaks the audience’s collective hearts with his powerful voice, as he laments his short life with Molly. Jeremy Walmsley has a solid grasp on the role of Carl – the phoney best friend who is an evil fraudster. Somehow Walmsley lets the audience know that both Carl’s friendship with Sam and his interest in Molly are shams. His acting ability takes the audience through the double layer.
Jocelyn Gauthier’s Molly is well done, from the girlfriend in mourning to the skeptic dealing with the fortune teller. She sings a heartfelt plea in “Three Little Words”.
Shahi Teruko provides comic relief with her hilarious portrayal of the psychic Oda Mae Brown. Tim Funnell shines in the dual roles of ghost in the hospital where he sings “You Gotta Let Go Now” and the nerdy bank employee who falls for Oda Mae’s con job. Jeremy Carver-James is quite entertaining as the subway ghost performing the song “Focus”, while Darren Burkett is frightening as Carl’s collaborator.
Credit goes to director Tracey Flye for the flow of the story through the many scene changes, and kudos to the cast for making the changes happen quickly. Flye creatively handles the supernatural parts perfectly. No one in the audience snickers at the ghosts and it is quite obvious who is going to hell.
So if you are overwhelmed with fond memories of the movie Ghost each time you hear the song “Unchained Melody”, make the trip to St. Jacobs to see this Canadian premier of the stage version of Ghost. A well-directed quality cast makes the trip worthwhile.
Ghost continues with eight shows a week until Oct. 21 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs. Tickets are available by calling Toll Free 1-855-372-9866 or Local Box Office 519-747-7788 or check www.draytonentertainment.com
Photo: Shahi Teruko as Oda Mae Brown, with Louise Camilleri as Mrs. Santiago and Graham Scott Fleming as Sam. Photo by Hilary Gauld Camilleri.
Book & Lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin
Music & Lyrics by Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard
Based on the Paramount film written by Bruce Joel Rubin
Directed by Tracey Flye
Musical Direction by Nico Rhodes
Performed by Graham Scott Fleming, Jocelyn Gauthier, Jeremy Walmsley, Shahi Teruko, Darren Burkett, Jeremy Carver-James, Tim Funnell, Louise Camilleri, Camille Eanga-Selenge, Keisha T. Fraser.
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs (Waterloo)
October 3 to 21, 2018
Reviewed by Mary Alderson