This past month saw a lot of turkey served on tables and one big one that landed on the stage of the Saenger Theater. The national tour of "Ghost: The Musical" made its appearance November 19 through 24 with dazzling projections and stage effects designed to depict the hustle and bustle of New York City.
Based on the successful 1986 movie that starred Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze as upwardly mobile New Yorkers Molly and Sam, "Ghost: The Musical" was written by the movie scriptwriter, Bruce Joel Rubin. In bringing the movie to the New York stage and now on the road, Rubin allowed the production to heighten the special effects and diminish what made the movie work so well, the intimacy shared by the young lovers.
The flashing lights and rear projections were nothing more than a deliberate distraction and took away from the storyline of the innocent couple caught up in the multi-million dollar laundering scheme.
The non-equity show starred Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik as Sam Wheat and Molly Jenson, respectively. While Douglas seemed fine for the role, Postonik's voice seemed off the mark in trying to bring home the music of former Eurythmic Dave Stewart and record producer Glen Ballard. There wasn't much memorable about the score and the only saving grace was the role of psychic Oda Mae Brown (the film's Oscar winning role for Whoopi Goldberg), played by Carla R. Stewart.
Stewart's "I'm Outta Here" near the end of Act II was the best number in the show and showed glimmers of what the musical could have been had Rubin and the producers of the show decided to simply tell the story without all of the distracting glitz.
The more troubling aspect to this and other non-equity touring shows is the fact that the series is bllled as "Broadway in New Orleans." While the production is professional in its staging, the lack of equity actors on the stage suggests this show would never be on a Broadway stage as is. The high quality associated with equity shows ensures the audience that the asking price of the ticket is worthy for what is being spent.
This trend may continue unless audiences begin to react more vociferously about whether a national tour is representative of an equity label or not. Since many of the Saenger's "Broadway In New Orleans" ticket holders are season subscribers, only a pushback of significance from them may begin to make the point.