Monday, August 8, 2011

Three Days of West End: Ghost

As I've mentioned, I just spent four days in London.
The results: six new CDs, aching feet, a severe case of West End hangover. I'll get over that eventually, but on the meanwhile, I'll review the shows I saw, starting with Ghost. I try to be quick, but I'll probably start ranting in no time, bear with me...

I had heard a lot of good about Ghost before seeing it - a couple of "it's awesome!"s and a whole lot of "I've heard it's amazing, I wish I'll get to see it soon!"s. Because it's kind of a principle of mine to see at least one show I know nothing of whenever I visit West End or Broadway, I decided Ghost be it this time.
Piccadilly Theatre was the same place I saw Grease a couple of years ago. I still kind of dislike the theatre itself: its steep auditorium makes me almost dizzy... But the show was so much better this time around!

As a whole, I enjoyed Ghost.
Actually, I started to cry when the first notes of the Overture started blaring through the air. Kind of silly, to feel so emotional to be in a West End theatre again...

I haven't seen the movie Ghost, so I can't say how much the stage musical differs from that, but I liked the story a lot. It's a beautiful story with really, really interesting supernatural elements. I just love unusual things like that, exploring the world with the eyes of a dead person was perfectly weird for my tastes.
The other thing I loved were the effects. They were the most amazing I've ever seen - I'm still wondering how they did some of them! I don't really want to say much about them so I won't spoil the moments for you, they're the best when you don't know what's coming up! I don't know if you can figure out their secrets if you sit in the first row, but from Grand Circle it looked just like magic.
What's more, I haven't a word of complaint about the actors. Everybody did a great job with their role, as far as I could tell high from the balcony...

But, to me, there were some problems with the show.
First of all, as my friend pointed out, the music was bland and repetitive. There were a couple of gorgeous tunes that stood out, but it did feel they were few and far between, since the other songs mostly sounded like each other. Actually, at one point I thought Ghost could maybe make a better straight play than a musical, which is not a really good sign when seeing a show with music...
The music's other problem, in my opinion, were the couple of lighter, happier songs that really stuck out like sore thumbs. One brought - in my opinion - unnecessary comic relief to a place that could've very well done without, the other - in my opinion again - brought needed comic relief, but unfortunately stretched it for way too many minutes. A little of that stuff goes a long way in a serious show, I think!
I also disliked the really clear, Christianity-inspired heaven and hell imagenary here and there. The show's name is Ghost, so it's of course going to explore the question about life after death, but I'd preferred if it hadn't chosen sides and picked any particular religion. And even if it did, I think projections of beast-like red teeth in the hell scene are a tad naive.

But still, despite the weird usage of comedy numbers and the slightly boring score, Ghost is worth checking out for the unbelievable effects alone. I think it's pure theatre magic, I won't stop wondering how on earth those tricks were possible!

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