Ghost: The Musical @ Pioneer Theatre

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 (reviewed Saturday 18 May).

Ghost: The Musical presented by Blackout Theatre Company is one of the best film adaptations we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. The music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard is based on the film for Paramount Pictures written by Bruce Joel Rubin. Theatre lovers and fans will absolutely love this wildly innovative and tech savvy production.

Ghost is an iconic film from the 90s starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. Although ghost stories are in abundance in Hollywood, none are quite as special as this. Who could forget the hot making-out pottery scene to Unchained Melody, or the souls of the creppy bad guys being claimed by even creepier spirits? Or Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar-winning performance as a shoddy, sassy psychic? These memorable moments and more come flooding back in this gorgeous musical that faithfully retains the essence of the script, while adding the verve and magic of a live stage show.

As aforementioned, the technical innovation is one of the major draw cards. Ghost is a simple story of good vs evil but the elements behind it are not. We are led to believe the protagonist exists in the paranormal realm of the afterlife, through x-ray type screens, video projections, invisible wires and concealed stage hands to create the illusion of telekinetic forces. We see objects toppling over and the protagonist walking away from his own dead body after his murder. Some effects are so unbelievably impressive it’s hard to tell how it was done (the crushing of an aluminium can comes to mind). 

Expert lighting by Blake Williams and LKR Productions creates the division of status between the living and the dead, as well as the seedy atmosphere in darker parts of New York where danger lurks around every corner. After his murder by a gunshot wound, the ice-blue spotlight that follows ghost-Sam is a highlight (no pun intended).

The backdrop of moving graphics allows the entire real estate of the stage to fluidly transform from scene to scene in bustling New York city where the story is set. Editing these graphical assets to perfection takes time, and the end result is a vibrant aesthetic that keeps the pace moving quickly. The sliding doors of the train carriage is visually dynamic and a fun optical illusion, as is the changing view of the New York city skyline as seen through the grand apartment windows where the protagonist, Sam Wheat, lives with his girlfriend, Molly Jensen. The loneliness and heartache she feels in such a cavernous space after Sam’s passing is palatable, as she troops about the space singing songs of lament for all their shared memories.

Acting and singing wise, it all just gets better and better. There’s an expectation that any adaptation will approximate the film’s iconic appeal, while layering the theatre company’s vision for originality and surprise. On both counts, the collaboration between Director (Cierwen Newell), Assistant Director (Ruth Newell, her mum!), Music Director (Koren Beale), Choreographer (Daniel Lavercombe), Assistant Choreographer (Milly Caruana) and Production Manager (Stephen Helies) delivers a superb result.

The cast are equally superb, particularly in the key roles as Sam Wheat (played by Luke Harris), Molly Jensen (Melanie Sestic), treacherous best friend Carl Bruner (Rob Hale), and hitman Willie Lopez (Matthew Mey).

But if we had to be honest, our favourite character hands down is Ode Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg’s role) played by Jacqui Peres. Maybe it’s because her character gets the best lines, or the sheer sassiness in how she delivers those lines, but Peres steals every scene and gets every laugh. My favourite line (uttered in a seductive whisper while she ogles and strokes a cheque for 10 million dollars): Imagine all the things I will do with you. 

Oda Mae’s two soul sisters working at her psychic parlour (played by Lucy Giles and Kate Simmons) are also comedic standouts.

A couple of minor points to address: for such a stellar production, it’s a shame Peres’ mike was noticeably muffled when she first arrived on stage.

Also, the swiveling and levitating equipment in Carl’s office, as if possessed, is very cool; finding a way to type S-A-M across the computer screen as seen in the movie would be icing on the cake.

Costuming by Katie Griffiths expresses each character’s individuality, particularly the colourful attire worn by the eccentric Oda Mae Brown. My guest and I agreed we have to find a sparkly rainbow robe just like the one she was wearing in one of her shimmering musical numbers.

Ghost: The Musical presented by Blackout Theatre Company is playing at Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill til 26 May. For tickets and showtimes, go to


Images: Supplied 

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