I will start by stating that I am not a fan of Ghost the musical. I saw it when it played in the West End and was left underwhelmed by the acting and musical numbers.
However I was willing to give it a chance under the LODS banner as I have always found LODS to produce excellent and well put together shows.
When looking in the programme before the show started, I was excited to see some of the casting choices the society had made. I had seen Stuart Woolner in productions before and knew he has the talent to pull off the role of Sam. I was also excited to see how Helen Sharpe would tackle the role of Oda Mae Brown, immortalised by Whoppi Goldberg in the film of course, after her very memorable Morticia Addams and Acid Queen roles.
Perhaps it is due to the second hearing, or perhaps it is because of the LODS cast, but I enjoyed some of the musical numbers more so this time, than when I heard them in the West End!
Stuart's versions of Unchained Melody - the iconic song associated with the story - was played brilliantly. Powerful, emotional and at times comedic. With You, sung by Jenny Peoples who played the role of Molly, was beautifully sung, light and full of emotion. I was not convinced, however when they sang together as often Stuart's voice simply over powered Jenny's. I'm Outta Here, sung by Helen as Oda Mae and the ensemble was a rousing number full of power and comedy. The rapping Subway Ghost, played by Lawrence Harp, was powerfully performed. It was full of anger, which on occasion meant the odd word was lost, but this did not detract from the power of the performance.
Throughout the whole show, the acting performances from each and every cast member were without fault. From the main cast to each member of the ensemble, I believed in every character that was created.
Stuart and Jenny played their roles excellently and had excellent on stage chemistry and despite myself I did indeed get a lump in my throat at the end of the show. Helen's Oda Mae was another excellent character performance by this seasoned actor.
A special mention must go to Lewis Sheldrake, who played the role of Carl well. I must also mention that in the scene with the obvious and almost over contrived spilling of the coffee on and subsequent removal of his shirt, there were several audience members around me who gasped! One even said "Oh my!". I wonder if those tattoos are real or applied for the show?
I would like at this point to congratulate the choreographer, Gemma Cohen, on her vision for the show. There was a very distinct feel of the dancing throughout. Although all the cast moved well, one cast member who stood out with regards to his movement was Lawrence Harp due to his very precise movements and facial expressions.
The one aspect of the West End show I did enjoy was special effects with regards to the ghost characters and I was interested to see how LODS would replicate these.
For the most part, LODs did well. I especially liked the moving cans in the scene between Sam and the Subway Ghost, and the way Stuart, as Sam, threw punches that missed, but looked as if he was falling through people. I also thought the way the dead body of 'Sam' was hidden on stage, so that the ghost and body could be seen in the same scene was done very well.
However the black suited people, moving people and objects in the train scene, could be seen at times which was disappointing and the scene in Carl's office, although well done, had aspects that seemed overly artificial - the hovering phone for example.
Overall, I enjoyed the LODS version of this musical.
I would not say I have been converted to the musical and will not be rushing out to buy the soundtrack, but LODS did an excellent job.
The next LODS production is to be Made in Dagenham the Musical in May 2016.