Hollywood blockbusters have long inspired big budget Broadway adaptations. Everything from “9 to 5,” “Shrek” and “Sister Act” to “Fame,” “Footloose” and “The Wedding Singer” have been mounted on the stage.
Some have been successful (“Lion King,” “Hairspray,” “The Producers”) while many are quickly forgotten (“Carrie,” “On a Clear Day,” “Promises, Promises”). Right now in New York, audiences can see the latest musical productions of “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Rocky” and Disney’s “Aladdin.”
The touring production of “Ghost the Musical,” based on the 1990 box office smash starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, opened on April 29 at Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center and runs through May 11.
And like so many other adaptations, “Ghost” struggles to live up to its namesake. The show features lots of whiz bang special effects and a video wall that certainly wow, but this stage production simply lacks the heart of the film.
The book follows the film script very closely: Young lovers Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) and Molly (Katie Postotnik) are leading a charmed life in New York City, until Sam is unexpectedly murdered in what appears to be a botched mugging. Sam’s spirit, unable to cross over until he knows Molly is safe, accidentally enlists the assistance of a storefront “psychic,” Oda Mae Brown (Carla R. Stewart).
In between the special effects and surprisingly unmelodic songs from Dave Stewart and Glenn Ballard — the exception being the holdover from the film score, “Unchained Melody,” which they obviously didn’t write — Bruce Joel Rubin’s book plods along with little insight from director Matthew Warchus and non-existent choreography from Ashley Wallen.
Unfortunately, this production is hampered most by a non-Equity cast. More and more non-Equity Broadway tours are hitting the road in an effort to cut costs and bolster the bottom line for both producers and presenters. The result is a young cast that cannot come close to the iconic onscreen performances that audiences have come to know and love. In a show like “Ghost the Musical,” this is a fatal flaw (pardon the pun).
Only Stewart injects some life into the show as the sassy, Gospel singing Oda Mae. Douglas and Postotnik are appealing, if young, and constantly challenged by the vocal demands of the score. And Robby Haltiwanger’s milquetoast Carl, the traitorous buddy, is never convincing.
From the earliest minutes of the show, I was reminded of another hit movie that hasn’t been made into a musical — at least not yet. “Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!” Where are Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray when you really need them?
“Ghost the Musical”
Tuesday – Friday, 8 p.m., Saturday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
through May 11
Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale
Tickets $34.50 – 74.50 at BrowardCenter.org