Spirited Away: Cast of new national tour of 'Ghost The Musical' happy Chicago is next haunt

2013-12-19T00:00:00Z Spirited Away: Cast of new national tour of 'Ghost The Musical' happy Chicago is next hauntBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Actor Steven Grant Douglas said he gets two common questions when others discover he plays the lead in the new Broadway touring production "Ghost The Musical," inspired by the popular film of 1990.

"Everyone asks me if I play the Patrick Swayze character, which the answer is yes, but they still never remember the character's name is Sam Wheat," said Douglas, during a telephone interview last week in East Lansing, Mich., prior to the tour breaking for holiday hiatus.

"And they also want to know if the big 'pottery scene' is featured in the stage musical, which it definitely is included."

Broadway In Chicago, Troika Entertainment and Michael Coppel in association with Hilary Williams, Margot Astrachan Production/Dennis Grimaldi Productions/Paul Lucas Productions/Robert Sher and Paramount Pictures, are driving force that launched the first U.S. national tour of "Ghost The Musical," based on the film by Bruce Joel Rubin and Paramount Pictures as a supernatural love story.

The tour plays Chicago's Oriental Theatre, 24 West Randolph, for a limited two-week engagement Jan. 7 to 19.

Douglas, who originally hails from Minneapolis, where he is now spending the holidays with his family, was in New York last April auditioning for a role in the Broadway production "Soul Doctor," when he discovered producers were also casting for this new tour.

"I actually missed the 'Ghost' auditions, but they let me still audition a little later, since they were still searching for some key roles," Douglas said.

"I remember it was over Fourth of July weekend in New York when they finally narrowed down their selections and I got this role."

In addition to Douglas as Sam Wheat, it also stars Katie Postotnik as Molly Jensen, Carla R. Stewart as Oda Mae Brown and Robby Haltiwanger as Carl Bruner.

Featured ensemble are Fernando Contreras, Brandon Curry, Evette Marie White, Nichole Turner, Hana Freeman and Shannan E. Johnson. Rounding out the ensemble are Omar Garibay, Susan Leilani Gearou, Tony Johnson, Beth Stafford Laird, Ben Laxton, Jake Vander Linden, Michael McClure, Jack O'Brien, Andrea Rouch and Maria Cristina Slye.

Directed by Tony Award-winner Matthew Warchus and choreographed by Ashley Wallen, the musical features book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin who has adapted his Academy Award-winning original screenplay for the stage, and original music and lyrics by a team of Grammy Award-winners, including Dave Stewart (half of the multi-Grammy Award-winning Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard (of Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror" and Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill"). The score also includes the iconic song "Unchained Melody," written by Hy Zaret and Alex North and famously performed in the film by The Righteous Brothers.

Set in modern day New York City, the stage story is a timeless fantasy about the power of love. Walking back to their apartment one night after a romantic dinner, Sam and Molly are mugged, leaving Sam dead on a dark street. Sam is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next and unable to leave Molly, who he learns is in grave danger. With the help of a storefront psychic, Sam tries to communicate with Molly in the hopes of saving and protecting her.

Southside Chicago actress Carla R. Stewart stars as the psychic Oda Mae Brown, played in the 1990 film by Whoopi Goldberg, who helped unite the love-crossed characters played by Swayze and Demi Moore. Goldberg won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of psychic.

"I've always been a fan of Whoopi, so playing her role in this tour is a thrill that feels like I got my Christmas gift earlier this year," Stewart said.

"Even though I had first seen the original film version years ago, I knew that I wanted to make my performance something new and fresh for this character."

While Stewart said her character has her own big song number called "Alive," it's the ensemble song "Suspend My Disbelief" that still ranks as her favorite.

"I'm backstage singing along during the musical numbers, and just like the audience, I feel a part of what's happening onstage even when I'm not onstage."

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