It’s never easy to turn a movie into a musical.
In a movie, scenes can be carefully edited with camera tricks and special effects, but on a stage, everything has to be done to perfection in real time as hundreds of eyes watch.
Yet somehow, director Matthew Warchus manages to pull it off, complementing great choreography with highly technical stage lighting and visual effects.
Adapted from the Oscar-winning 1990 film that starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost the Musical is a deeply romantic and emotional story set in New York City.
It tells the story of a man, Sam Wheat (Liam Doyle), and his fiancé Molly Jensen (Andrea Laxton), and their love for each other that transcends life and death.
After he dies, Sam learns he was murdered and seeks help from a medium, Oda Mae Brown (Wendy Mae Brown) to protect Molly from danger.
In Ghost the Musical, the protagonist Sam dies in the first half, just like in the movie, and turns into a ghost immediately after.
Upon hearing a gunshot, Sam runs after the shooter and turns back only to see his dead body lying lifeless on the ground.
The musical makes clever use of lighting to differentiate between the living and the ghosts.
Thanks to illusionist Paul Kieve, whose portfolio include being the magic consultant for Harry Potter movies, the optical illusion created by layers of projections that are used alongside the actors on stage will give your senses a real treat.
Strobe lights aren’t used sparingly either, so expect to be momentarily blinded at certain points of the show.
Lights and projection aside, there are also magic tricks in some scenes where things float and inanimate objects come to life.
Movie vs musical
The musical is, in a word, cinematic.
Unlike musicals written for stage, the storyline in Ghost the Musical is as clear as it gets, and audiences can be sure to walk out knowing the what happened, whether or not they’ve seen the movie.
While some parts had to be tweaked for better stage adaptation, it was impressive to see how closely the flow of the musical kept to the original script.
One of the most compelling scenes is the one where Sam rushes through the trains in search of a ghost who can teach him how to move things.
Let's not forget Oda Mae Brown, whose colorful performance pretty much steals the limelight in every scene she appears in.
Sit back and relax
The modern musical is enjoyable if you don’t nitpick on the finer details.
A good variety of music brings the audience from beginning through to the end, but don’t expect vocal perfection.
At times, it seems Molly’s lines are a little too long to fit nicely into the melody, but when she harmonises with Sam and his “best friend” Carl Bruner, you’ll forgive her for stretching those vocals.
Although the physical props may be simple in comparison with other musicals performed at the Marina Bay Sands theatre, the illusions brought to stage are certainly a notch above the rest.
Finally, bring a pack of tissues, because you may just end up crying buckets on this emotional journey.
*Ghost the Musical runs from 4–15 November, and tickets are available from Sistic.