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Sung with spirit ; Hit film Ghost made a surprisingly successful transfer to the stage, and it's heading to Nottingham later this month. Lizz Brain...

August 1, 2013

YellowBrix

Sung with spirit ; Hit film Ghost made a surprisingly successful transfer to the stage, and it's heading to Nottingham later this month. Lizz Brain finds out more

Ghost was one of the classic love films of the 90s - a murdered man returns in spirit form to warn his lover she's in danger, but can only do so through a woman who doesn't realise she's actually a psychic. With Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg heading the cast, it grossed $505 million, making it the highest-grossing film of 1990.

It won five Oscar nominations, with Goldberg winning the best supporting actress award for her role as Oda Mae Brown.

Now it's actress Wendy Mae Brown (last seen in Leicester as Glinda in The Wizard of Oz and Joanne in Rent at the Haymarket) who steps into those shoes for the touring production of the stage version.

The film made good use of special effects - the ghost of Sam walking through doors, items moving, spirits and ghosts. How can that be done on stage? We have exactly the same script as the film so audiences are already very familiar with it, but the stage show is more colourful, brighter, and has these fabulous songs, says Wendy. We do have some amazing effects, I'm not going to say how it's done but you will see Sam walk straight through a door!

We do hear from audience members that they were worried that the show wouldn't live up to expectation because they loved the film so much, but they always love the musical and we get a great reaction. It's sounds awful to say that they're sobbing by the end, and they are, but it's about everlasting love, about death not being the end, it's a beautiful story and that fact that it's a musical only adds to that.

My character is ratcheted up 100 per cent for the musical, she's outrageous and funny and of course, when it's on stage it's happening right in front of you so you feel more invested in it anyway.

Performing scenes with a ghost that you're not supposed to be able to see does have its own challenges though. It's hard doing scenes with someone that you can't look at, says Wendy.

He's often positioned just behind me but sometimes he's right in front of my face and I'm having to pretty much look right through him. Of course, I'm very aware of where he is, and he's so gorgeous it's a shame I can't stare at him every night!

Oda Mae is the lynchpin, she's a charlatan medium who suddenly finds that she can actually hear Sam speaking to her.

She goes on an incredible journey from being a con artist to being the conduit for Sam and Molly.

It's a very physically and mentally-demanding role and I have to be prepared for that every night, but I do love playing her.

It's also a highly-technical show, with the set and lighting crew running through the show at each new venue on the Monday, with an extra run-through on the Tuesday for each venue's team of dressers. It's not a show where the set goes in and we just turn up, have a soundcheck and perform, Wendy said.

Actors change from a banker to a ghost in about 15 seconds, that needs five dressers to one dancer. It would be too expensive to take dressers with us so we use the theatre's own team in each venue.

It's a massive team and a massive learning curve for the team at each venue, and it's exhausting for us too as we do eight shows a week, but at every new venue we're doing an extra full run through.

It's almost impossible to do a show this size and not have things go wrong every now and then, but audiences love the musical and love the fact that the script is the same and the iconic lines that they love are still there.

info GHOST THE MUSICAL is at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall from Tuesday, August 13 to Saturday, August, 24.

Details on 0115 989 5555, or see the website: www.trch.co.uk

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