Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 | 2:30 a.m.
“Ghost,” the Oscar-winning hit film from 1990 starring the late Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg and directed by Jerry Zucker, isn’t ripe for translation from the big screen to Broadway musical stage.
After all, who remembers if there is even another song in the drama-fantasy-mystery besides The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” while Swayze (Sam Wheat) and Moore (Molly Jensen) are bringing sexy back to a potter’s wheel?
(But I do remember watching “Ghost” at the movie theater while in high school and bawling at the end. Bawling.)
But the lack of musical material didn’t stop Tony Award-winning director Matthew Warchus (for the drama “God of Carnage” in 2009) from creating “Ghost The Musical,” whose national tour is now at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday.
While the adaptation is not wholly successful — some scenes seem disjointed and drag, and the terrific orchestra led by music director Matthew Smedal at times drowns the singing — there is plenty to praise in this visually arresting production.
The special effects are mesmerizing — from Sam’s adjustment in becoming a ghost to his two awe-inspiring scenes with another ghost on a subway. Psychic Oda Mae Brown’s transformation into Sam while he is dancing with Molly is seamless, and his final exit to the good afterlife is the perfect ending.
Tall and athletic Steven Grant Douglas, as Sam, commands the stage with his physical and vocal presence — his gorgeous voice is strong and soaring and his range wide — and is the standout of “Ghost The Musical.”
It’s understandable why Molly would have a tough time getting over him. Douglas’ vocals reminded of “Rent”; sure enough, he has portrayed Roger in the award-winning musical, according to the program.
Katie Postotnik’s Molly is lovely, and her wide-ranging vocals match Grant’s. Her solo “With You,” with a spotlight on her small blond frame, is at once quiet, forceful and heartbreaking. Postotnik shines at center stage in this scene.
Carla R. Stewart’s Oda Mae Brown has impeccable comedic timing, and she should in filling the big shoes of Goldberg. And Robby Haltiwanger’s villain Carl Bruner is surprisingly complex and strong of voice (Haltiwanger also has portrayed Roger in “Rent.)
Media were given a backstage tour of the musical before Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. performance that included Wheat’s “Barbarella” poster, the ill-fated couple’s large Brooklyn loft, the office, the subway and Brown’s psychic enclave.
Trivia: Who won the two Oscars for “Ghost”? Goldberg, deservedly, for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Bruce Joel Rubin for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
Now to find a DVD of “Ghost” and a box of Kleenex.
Thanks to Las Vegas Sun photographer Steve Marcus for his photo galleries of the musical and the pre-performance backstage tour at the Smith Center.
“Ghost The Musical,” at the tail end of its national tour, is at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday.
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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