Ghost

 

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although it seems like five minutes ago it’s actually an incredible 8 years since Ghost the Musical first premiered in Manchester before opening in London’s West End ahead of a successful Broadway transfer and judging by audience responses at the Palace Theatre the love for this classic story shows no sign of waning.

Based on Bruce Joel Rubin’s iconic 1990 film, starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost tells the tragic love story of Brooklyn residents Sam (Niall Sheehy) and Molly (Rebekah Lowings) whose lives are cruelly torn apart when Sam is heartbreakingly murdered in a street robbery gone wrong. As Sam watches the scene of his death from a distance, stuck between two worlds he realises what at first seemed like a tragic accident is anything but and his beloved Molly is now in danger too. In order to find his own peace he must find a way to connect with and ultimately protect his love from beyond the grave, cue Oda Mae Brown an outrageous and questionable psychic who has made a living off receiving messages from the dead and passing them onto their living relatives for a fee of course; Problem is she’s never actually connected to anyone from the afterlife until now.

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Rebekah Lowings is hugely endearing as Molly, tentatively attempting to navigate life after the loss of her soulmate she skilfully takes us along for the turbulent ride. Her voice is beautiful; she delivers each solo with fabulous control. The chemistry between Lowings and Niall Sheehy feels genuinely convincingly further adding to the emotion and impact of this production. Sheehy is lively and charismatic as Sam, his commitment to protecting Molly from danger genuinely touching.

Jacqui Dubois is brass, bold and boisterous as Oda Mae Brown, her razor sharp comedic timing is a joy to watch and her hilarious interactions with Sheehy are a real highlight. The scene where we first meet her and her two abetting sisters Louise (Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy) and Clara (Sadie-Jean Shirley) is hilarious with their exaggerated gestures and punchy harmonies.

Special mention must also go to Sergio Pasquariello and Jules Brown who both impress as evil duo Carl and Willie.

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Impressive set and costume design from Mark Bailey adds to the slickness and authenticity of this production while Dan Samson’s sound design although vibrant occasionally overpowers the vocals of the performers. Nick Richings lighting design really makes this piece stand out visually, particularly impressive is the way Sam is lit once he passes from the real world.

The production translates exceptionally well from screen to stage with the addition of some great illusions from Richard Pinner delivered convincingly by an excellent cast.

Ghost will please fans of the original film and is also strong enough as a standalone production for those coming to the show with fresh eyes. It’s heavy on both emotion and humour while the dramatic and engaging story unfolds. There’s love, hope, comedy, deception and drama all neatly packed into this impressive production and while Dave Stewart’s  songs may not be the most memorable they are enjoyable and beautifully delivered.

This reworked incarnation directed by Bob Tomson feels faithful and impressive. Gone is the celebrity casting allowing this production the delivery it deserves ensuring Ghost once again cements itself as a modern theatre classic. Hugely entertaining theatre which engages on every level and will leave you with more than a little tear in your eye.

Ghost the Musical is at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 20th April tickets available here.

Rocky Horror

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Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Walking through Spinningfields surrounded by swathes of burly blokes in stockings and suspenders on a foggy January night can mean only one thing…Rocky Horror is back in town!

An incredible 46 years since it first opened, Richard O’Brien’s cult classic shows no sign of age as this fresh and feisty production bursts into vibrant life. There’s an electricity in the air as from the minute the lights go down as usherette Laura Harrison introduces the show in unique Ricky Horror style.

After running into a spot of car trouble conservative kids Brad (Ben Adams) and Janet (Joanne Clifton) end up seeking help at a creepy castle in the middle of nowhere. This is where the fun well and truly begins as the virginal duo meet Frank N Furter and his debauched servants for a night they’ll never forget.

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Guiding us through the mayhem is Corrie’s Beverley Callard in the role of Narrator; she gives as good as she gets with the notoriously sharp audience heckling and the love Manchester has for her is wonderful to see.

Ben Adams and Joanne Clifton as Brad and Janet are superbly cast. The duo who recently starred in Flashdance together and only this week announced they’ve written their own musical really are a match made in musical heaven. Their chemistry is electric as they change from innocent stiffs to naughty nymphs; with strong acting skills and great comedic timing not to mention powerful voices, their transformation will thrill the most diehard of Rocky Horror fans.

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Stephen Webb whips the audience into a frenzy with his fabulously flamboyant Frank N Furter, the antici………pation for his entrance brings squeals of delight as he struts round the stage with ultimate sass. Special mention must also go to Kristian Lavercome, as Rif Raf, Laura Harrison as Magenta, Miracle Chance as Columbia, Callum Evans as Rocky and Ross Chisari as Eddie/Dr Scott each shine in their roles bringing this production to the next level and complementing the leads perfectly.

Set designer Hugh Durrant wraps the stage in a giant celluloid movie reel which is lit to perfection by Nick Richings dynamic lighting while Nathan M Wright’s choreography feels fresh and inspired.

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The songs are catchy and some of the biggest ear worms you’ll ever hear while the story is so brilliantly bonkers you’ll be kept entertained from start to finish. With a superb cast and a chance to leap up mid-way through Act I and do The Time Warp you really can’t go wrong.

Frivolous, flirty and a whole lot of fun! Catch Rocky Horror show at the Opera House until Saturday 26th January tickets available here.