OFFBEAT: National 'Ghost' stage tour light on craft but clever effects

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-01-12T00:00:00Z 2014-01-12T12:33:17Z OFFBEAT: National 'Ghost' stage tour light on craft but clever effectsBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

I begin this review of the new national Broadway tour of "Ghost The Musical," now playing Oriental Theatre in Chicago until Jan. 19, by confessing I have never seen the 1990 feature film that starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg in the primary roles.

I know I've seen a few scenes of the movie, while flipping across cable channels during the past two decades, and I certainly know the film's basic premise.

But after talking to countless people as of late, who have seen the film, and yet still confess they can't recall much of finer details of the plot points and supporting characters, I feel as though my introduction to the story via seeing last week's opening night of the new Broadway musical tribute, can certainly suffice.

Broadway In Chicago is presenting this non-equity run produced by Troika Entertainment and Michael Coppel in association with Hilary Williams, Margot Astrachan Production/Dennis Grimaldi Productions/Paul Lucas Productions/Robert Sher and Paramount Pictures. It is indeed based on the film by Bruce Joel Rubin as a supernatural love story. (However, I notice they have updated some details, by including cell phone references and updated technology moments, likely not around in 1989 when the original film was based.)

Actor Steven Grant Douglas, who plays the male lead Sam Wheat, is a strong acting and singing force and enjoyable to watch, although a few of the romantic scenes seemed waning. However, Katie Postotnik as Molly Jensen, the female central character, offers more problematic casting. Her vocal song instances are bumpy, and at times, shrill. Her acting is also uneven. Robby Haltiwanger as antagonist business associate Carl Bruner is passable.

Some of the most entertainment acting and song moments come from Chicago's own Carla R. Stewart as psychic Oda Mae Brown. And the featured ensemble are also a hard-working lot. 

Directed by Tony Award-winner Matthew Warchus, the first 20 minutes of this musical trickles away at a mind-numbing pace. I'm not a fan of flashback sequences, but opening the show with the scene that features the hospital emergency room would be far more interesting and exciting. I don't know how necessary it is to spend 20 minutes establishing just how in-love the central characters are.  The choreography by Ashley Wallen is uninspired, with most of the musical numbers featuring business associates walking back and forth.

Most impressive during the two and half hour musical are the special effects and magic, courtesy of Paul Kieve. Some of the use of projection and video, designed by Jon Driscoll, is excessive and distracting.

Ultimately, seeing this musical depends on audience curiosity factor to see what unfolds. Tickets are $27 to $95 at (800) 775-2000 or or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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