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With network and cable reruns of the hit 1990 film Ghost a fairly regular occurrence, it’s to be expected that a stage musical based on the cinematic original is pretty much ripe for comparison. With Whoopi Goldberg flexing her most impressive comedic muscles as Oda Mae Brown (Academy Award), and Patrick Swayze’s Sam embodying every woman’s romantic ideal (even post-mortem), the challenge of bringing new faces to these iconic roles had to be staggering.
And then, of course, there was Demi Moore as Molly, remembered to this day for her short brunette bob and dark gamine features, caressing clay into a pliable metaphor for eternal love -- as “Unchained Melody” soars in the background, sigh. Recreate that on the stage, if you dare!
Fortunately, the individuals putting together Ghost the Musical opted to cast outside the box. As a result, Broadway veteran Caissie Levy (Hair, Wicked, Hairspray), with wavy, shoulder-length blonde hair and a fair complexion, became Molly -- first in England, and eventually on Broadway.
“I think one of the reasons the show is working so well is because they never wanted to simply recreate the film on stage,” says Levy. “They liked what I had going on...my look...and decided to go with it.”
Levy, who grew up just outside Toronto, Canada, moved to New York when she was 19 to study at AMDA Conservatory of the Performing Arts; during her second year, she landed her first professional role: Maureen in the national tour of Rent. But it’s her whirlwind experience with Ghost that is shaping the way she approaches her performances.
“The music especially is incredible -- it’s got everything: ballads, pop, rock...” she says, going on to cite her great respect and love for the music legends responsible for creating the score: Grammy Award winners Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) and Glen Ballard (who wrote, among other things, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill).
Adding to the awesomeness of the composing team is the man behind the book: Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for the Ghost screenplay. And just in case you were wondering, the musical is not a total clone of the movie: Rubin has updated the setting to the present day, which makes room for a much different Subway Ghost (Tyler McGee)... okay, mini spoiler: there’s a show-stopping rap number involved.
As for the rest of the cast, Levy describes the talent level as “through the roof.” So much so that the show’s original choreographer, Ashley Wallen, “upped the ante for New York City because of the ensemble’s amazing dance skills.”
And, then, of course, there are Levy’s co-stars: Richard Fleeshman, who crossed the pond with her to continue Sam’s onstage romantic chemistry with Molly. However, the other two main characters -- Oda Mae, the storefront psychic who turns out to be the real deal; and Carl, Sam’s best friend and the co-worker responsible for his death -- are played by actors new to the show: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, making a killer Broadway debut (“Molly, you in danger girl!”), and Bryce Pinkham, last seen in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Studio 54 and whose final scene will haunt you big time -- guaranteed.
Under the direction of Tony winner Matthew Warchus, Ghost is a bona fide “take your breath away” technological masterpiece created by a group of creative geniuses. Start to finish, the special effects add to, rather than rival, the performances. From the cutting edge use of projections, lighting, video, and “illusions,” to the show’s mind-blowing sound effects, choreography, and music -- well, let’s just say the creative team for Ghost has played a significant part in laying the groundwork for a brave new world of Broadway scenic design and staging.
What this all comes down to is a visually astounding production unlike any other show you’re likely to encounter on Broadway -- or anywhere else for that matter.
“Not only is [this production] a gorgeous spectacle, but it’s also a beautiful romance,” concludes Levy. “It’s the total package for theatergoers -- really!”
Ghost the Musical is playing at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St. For tickets,
call 877-250-2929 or click here.
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