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Ghost The Musical - WAOS Review

Writer: Mark Johnson

Good theatre is a show that makes you feel something. You have to be stone-cold-hearted to not feel touched by Ghost The Musical which Wigston Amateur Operatic Society performs at The Little Theatre in Leicester.

Sammy Williams (Molly) and Keiran Whelan-Newby (Sam). Photo by Sarah Varnam/Lewis Hunt

The stage musical is based on the 1990 film that starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, I’ll admit early that I’ve never seen the film so I wasn’t entirely familiar with the material - not that it matters either way.

The musical is centered around banker Sam and his girlfriend Molly who have moved into a new Manhattan apartment which they are renovating with the help of Sam’s friend and colleague Carl. One evening Sam is mugged for his wallet and in a scramble he ends up being shot, as a Ghost Sam, with the help of a psychic medium, tries to warn Molly of the impending danger that she finds herself in.

It’s an ambitious production with intelligent staging and a large ensemble that helps provide the bustling New York streets as well as a couple of dance numbers. Lydia Rushton’s choreography is pulled off well by the company which has a nice mix of ages. 

Visually much of the impact of New York, the locations and the weather are provided through projections. Technical director Joe Roberts has done a great job in pulling together visual effects that work alongside the on-stage performances.

Roberts also provides lighting design which is most impressive in lighting Sam in blue as soon as he is a ghost, it cleverly signifies throughout that Sam is no longer in the human world but his spirit lives on as well as separating him from the rest of the cast. The lighting effectively ramps up drama, tension and emotions. Tom Brooks balances the sound well allowing for the clearness of the voices and the vocals to be heard.

The book by Bruce Joel Rubin (who also provides lyrics) gives a compelling first act which isn’t quite matched in the second act that loses its way a little. Director Sarah Varnam does manage to navigate it well, keeping you invested in what is happening and driving toward a moving conclusion.

Musically there are some magnificent numbers by Dave Stewart, Glen Ballard and Rubin. There are a few numbers that pack an emotional punch that can stir and move you. Kate Bale’s musical direction of a superb sounding 9 piece orchestra plays the score tremendously.

Sammy Williams (Molly) and Keiran Whelan-Newby (Sam). Photo by Sarah Varnam/Lewis Hunt.

The central performances of Sammy Williams as Molly and Keiran Whelan-Newby as Sam are believable in forming a beautiful bond and the chemistry that you need for the emotional elements to pay off. You instantly invest in their bond and relationship. 

Williams goes through the mill of emotions, particularly impressive is how she portrays the heartbreaking grief that Molly is going through. The number ‘With You’ is sung with so much feeling that I defy you to not feel a tear roll down your cheek.

Whelan-Newby does a superb job with Sam, the frustration as he realises he’s not able to communicate with Molly and that he can’t impact objects is captured brilliantly. He has a great stage presence and vocally sings superbly throughout. The pairing show great confidence and connection.

Katie Wilson has great fun as psychic Ode Mae Brown. Wilson gives it the right amount of larger-than-life energy but also humanises the role well as she delivers Sam’s messages to Molly. She has a cracking voice too which is shown off to its full potential in the second act number ‘I’m Outta Here.’

Paul Knight as Carl Bruner, and I mean this as a compliment, is deliciously dislikeable especially as the full intentions of the character are shown. He is matched by Jay Kenney’s villainous Willie Lopez.

There is some great supporting work in the company. Charlene West as Clara and Charlotte Beaver as Louise add some much-needed humour as do Liz Hunt and Antonietta Derry as a couple of nuns who get the funniest line of the production. Lucy Foreman’s Subway ghost is a reminder of what can happen when stuck in the in-between for too long whilst father and son Ady and Jacob Bale are hospital ghosts who first encounter Sam. 

Undoubtedly Ghost The Musical is a moving piece that touches a chord with everyone. It’s a powerful exploration of love and loss. WAOS captures it beautifully with great talent on and off stage.

Ghost The Musical by WAOS plays at The Little Theatre in Leicester until Saturday 20th May 2023. Tickets are available from

Katie Wilson (Ode Mae Brown) and the ensemble. Photo by Sarah Varnam/Lewis Hunt.

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