The opening-night curtain on “Ghost the Musical” went up nearly a half-hour late Wednesday, a delay blamed on technical glitches. But those were not the only problems with this glitzy, tricked-out touring musical blowing out the speakers of the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through Monday.
Adapted by Bruce Joel Rubin from his Oscar-winning screenplay for the 1990 smash film, “Ghost” — which lasted just four months on Broadway in 2012 — is directed without subtlety or nuance by Matthew Warchus, and has poor casting, a muddled book and uninspired music.
The apparition here is a murdered banker, Sam Wheat, played by Minnesota native Steven Grant Douglas. Instead of going off into the great beyond, Sam hangs around to warn his girlfriend Molly (Katie Postotnik) that she’s in mortal danger from his co-worker, Carl (Robby Haltiwanger). To communicate with Molly, the ghost uses a quack psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Carla R. Stewart in the role that won Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar).
While Douglas has a decent voice, Postotnik was flat on opening night. Maybe she had a cold or ear infection, but she could have used one of the spotlights that followed her on stage to search for her pitch.
It’s unfair, however, to place the blame squarely on the performers, given the material they have to work with. The songs, by pop hitmakers Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and Glen Ballard, best known for his work with Alanis Morissette, do not arise naturally out of the story, so the performers seem lost at times. Up-tempo numbers sound like dance music for robots. The choreography, by Ashley Wallen, is also mechanical. And lyrics sacrifice meaning for rhyme. Seriously, what does it mean when the Subway Ghost (Brandon Curry), teaching the title character to move things in the real world, sings: “Feel the tension/ That’s the key factor/ Focus your attention/ Like a nuclear reactor”?
On the plus side, “Ghost” does have cool effects, including a title character who can walk through walls. And there’s some stuff with levitation and seeming weightlessness. But those are amusement park sideshows. This is supposed to be a theater production.
It says something that the number drawing the biggest audience response was a song that Oda Mae delivers near the end of the show — “I’m Outta Here.”