Excellent casting from top to bottom makes Ghost The Musical at the Chemainus Theatre worth the trip this summer.
The audience was buzzing as the show let out for intermission and to sum up the feeling in the theatre: people were impressed.
Jacob Woike and Jennie Neumann in the starring roles of Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen deliver powerhouse vocals that underline their tragic story.
Many will know the plot, as the musical is based on the successful film Ghost, starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopie Goldberg. Sam and Molly are a couple in love until Sam is killed one night in what appears to be a mugging. As a ghost he works to solve his murder, which turns out to be more involved than a random street crime, with the help of psychic Oda Mae Brown.
Madeleine Eddy stars as Brown here and delivers in the comedic relief department, keeping the show from veering too far in the direction of unrelieved sentimentality. Eddy is wonderful as the con artist with a heart and she easily grabs the spotlight with a presence like a force of nature. There are some exceptionally funny moments courtesy of her talent. Watch for the fun when a ghost takes over her body.
The best and most memorable song in the show is the same as in the film: ‘Unchained Melody’. It is stunningly beautifully delivered here by Woike and Neumann to full effect as they easily hit the high notes, though their total commitment to all the material is the heart and soul of the show’s success. We like Sam and Molly, and feel the depth of their emotions thanks to the performances of the two leads. Though nothing can bring Sam back to life, the ending of the show is nevertheless immensely satisfying, and that’s largely thanks to Woike and Neumann finding the right tone.
Connor Lucas is also incredibly effective in showing his character’s different faces. From slick and laid back to desperate he hit all the right notes and is no slouch in the singing department either, easily carrying his own solos with a combination of vocal and acting skill.
Those is supporting roles were also impressive. Jaxon Jensen’s manic turn as the subway ghost and Oliver Castillo doing a softshoe as the hospital ghost were both highlights.
Vincente Sandoval, Rosemary Jeffery, Danica Charlie and Sarah Cantuba also delivered in their supporting roles as well as in the ensemble, which acted as a kind of Greek chorus at times and to set the mood at others.
Also deserving of a mention is the combination of the clever set and lighting design by Hans Saefkow and Imogen Wilson, and direction by the theatre’s own Mark DuMez.
The set design manages to turn the stage into Sam and Molly’s loft, a New York Street, a subway car, a bank office and more with a few moveable pieces and clever lighting.
DuMez deftly brings out the touching, sensual, angry and funny moments in the script, and you can see his sure hand with how the show handles each of the deaths in the story with clever seamlessness.
Given how much the audience from opening night loved it, you’d do well to book your tickets for Ghost soon, as it’s likely to fill up fast. It’s on until Aug. 27. Go to chemainustheatre.ca to get your seat.