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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Ghosts, those various spirits, apparitions and other-worldly beings we are endlessly fascinated by, have long been “seen” in entertainments. From Hamlet’s father’s ghost, to Marley’s ghost, to George and Marion Kirby in the movie/television series “Topper”, to Casper in cartoon form, to “we ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts” in “Ghostbusters” and on and on – the spirits of the dead have provided endless story situations in novels, shows, comic books and movies.

In 1990, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore starred in the film “Ghost” which swept the country as a box-office winner. Ghost The Musical, with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, followed with a West End opening in London in the summer of 2011. Now, this production has found its way to haunting the Beef and Boards stage.

Three Little Words

Molly Jensen (Andrea Laxton) and Sam Wheat (Eddie Egan) in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Directed by Douglas E. Stark, with musical staging by Ron Morgan, B&B’s production is a decidedly modern stage offering. Set on Michael Layton’s slick set design, with dynamic lighting effects from designer Ryan Koharchik, everything has the feel of a new era style of theatre, raising the bar in B&B’s production history.

The show is very well cast. Eddie Egan and Andrea Laxton make their Beef and Boards debuts starring as Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen, young lovers on the verge of taking the next big step in their relationship when a street confrontation turns everything around. Sam dies, but is left in a phantom state where he cannot leave Molly until he has taken care of the many loose ends his demise has brought about. Egan is impressive in his portrayal of the ghostly Sam. He covers all the emotional bases in his arc with sensitivity and, when necessary, good humor. Ms. Laxton skillfully weathers her emotionally charged course as she is left to lament her fate, highlighted by her mournful “With You” and the hopeful “Nothing Stops Another Day”. These two performers’ voices blend extremely well on a number of shared tunes, and Ms. Laxton, especially, has a smooth vocal quality one could listen to all day.

More

Carl Bruner (Patrick Michael Joyce), center, and ensemble members in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Patrick Michael Joyce takes the part of antagonist Carl Bruner, a friend of the couple who has dug an ever deepening hole for himself at his job. Joyce is a perfect choice for the crooked Carl and is well up to the task for all levels of his role. Likewise, Renée Jackson is ideal as psychic medium Oda Mae Brown, who forms a communication connection with Sam and helps solve the problems he has left behind. Ms. Jackson’s far-fetched Oda Mae is delightful, and exquisitely extreme, adding a comic touch to a most often poignant story.

A superb group of supporting ensemble members completes the cast list. B&B veteran John Vessels is brilliant in his characterizations of both the Hospital Ghost and Lionel Ferguson. Joshua L.K. Patterson creates a fierce and psychotic Subway Ghost with unfettered aplomb. Kelly Teal Goyette has great fun as a duped psychic client of Oda Mae Brown, Logan Moore is deadly and intimidating as gunman Willie Lopez,  and Ayana Bey and Christine Zavaskos deftly pair up in their various secondary roles.  Furthermore, this group is charged with skillfully performing the precision-like Ron Morgan choreography on a number of occasions.

Get out of here - leave me alone

Storefront psychic Oda Mae Brown (Renée Jackson) in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Jill Kelly Howe’s rich costume designs and Zach Rosings’ visual effects design (just wait until you see the comeuppances in store for the bad guys) complete the picture. And the entire show is enhanced by Terry Woods’ musical direction and the B&B orchestra which features the tear-inspiring work of violinist Kara Day. (Nice job, Ms. Day!)

Bottomline – a refreshingly modern approach to this boy-girl story makes Ghost The Musical a highly worthwhile production. Strong performances by all involved, both onstage and behind the scenes, are noteworthy.

Ghost The Musical continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through November 18th. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry

 

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