Frank Sinatra used to have an opening joke in his lounge and concert acts where he would take the stage as if beset by a hangover, squint out blearily into the audience and say, “How did all these people get into my room!?”’
Well, that’s how Ghost, the Musical begins, since it’s based on the rom-dram flick of the same name. There are a lot of “people” in the room as Sam and Molly look for a new apartment in Brooklyn along with a bunch of ghosts. Indeed, there are lots apparitions in this piece, as the twenty-somethings Sam and Molly pursue their love jones until Sam is killed in a mugging gone wrong (or right) on the mean streets.
And while the music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, are not particularly memorable, the Mercury cast infuses it with enough pizzazz to make it all reasonably enjoyable.
The grieving Molly is comforted by their friend and Sam’s co-worker Carl, which seems like a godsend until his ulterior motives are revealed. Of course, for anyone who saw the movie, it won’t come as a surprise that Sam is a most active ghost. He forces a local psychic Oda Mae Brown to become his corporeal tool, maneuvering her to meet with Molly and warn her about impending dangers.
As Sam, Robert Head sings well and is rather blandly charming in either state. Korrine Courtwright is equally affecting at times and has a lovely voice at lower volumes, but when she pushes it her vocals tend to become a bit harsh.
Brian Marshall puts a smiling, snarky spin on Carl’s skullduggery, but the real standout is Kelvette Beacham as the scamming soothsayer Oda Mae. Shocked to learn she can actually speak to a dead guy after years of faking it, Beacham’s Oda Mae gets all the laugh lines and lands each of them with otherworldy precision.
In smaller roles, Craig Juricka is an imposing force as the subway ghost who torments Sam on the other side, and Justin Woody has a mean streak as Sam’s murderer Willie Lopez.
Director Pierre-Jacques Brault finds interesting ways to simulate ghostly activities, such as walking through closed doors, and this is all enhanced by an effective lighting design by Michael Jarett and a solid orchestra under the baton of Eddie Carney.
This is the first production of the renamed Mercury Summer Stock company, and their popularity appears to be growing fast. Pretty soon, they may actually fill the cavernous auditorium seating on the campus of Notre Dame College. And that will be well deserved, since Mercury (by whatever name) consistently produces quality productions with young and energetic casts.
Ghost, the Musical
Through June 27, produced by Mercury Theatre Company, Notre Dame College, 1857 S. Green Road, South Euclid, 216-771-5862.