The 1990 romantic drama Ghost was never a film I was ever intrigued by, and its musical, adapted by the film's own scriptwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, is the only Atlantis-produced play I wasn't keen on seeing since theater started to interest me two years ago. I knew the film starred Demi Moore and I knew it won some awards. The problem was I didn't know the story.
It was, in fact, a good thing that I didn't know because it does sometimes feel good to watch something, a movie or a play, not having read whatever original form of literature it was based on. Ghost The Musical is the story of lovers Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen and how, after Sam is killed in a very unfortunate mugging, his ghost is forced to investigate the cause of his own death with the help of another ghost in the subway, a psychic medium Oda Mae Brown, and eventually, Molly herself. Detective and fantasy fiction—it was my cup of tea. The lead actors were able to reel me in on the romance part once they started singing.
Christian Bautista's voice was perfect for the role of Sam Wheat, a boyfriend who's romantic but can't quite say the actual words "I love you" to her girlfriend. Even I let out a silent but genuine "Awww" when he crooned "Unchained Melody" in an effort to woo Molly at the start of the play. Christian might have had trouble with the singing in some parts though, because he was wincing during some of his solos. Those same singing parts also felt a bit devoid of emotion, like he was just focusing on hitting all the notes, which probably accounts for the wincing, and his acting seemed a bit awkward, but it's understandable as he's still a bit new to the stage. Cris Villonco, on the other hand, playing the role of Molly Jensen, reminded me just how good musicals can be, if one gave it a chance, and how redeeming a great love story sometimes is, even to the most cynical of hearts. I felt her character's grief. My jaw dropped several times hearing her hit and sustain the high notes, with just the right amount of emotion to force tears out of my eyes. It made me sorry not to have seen Cris' prior stage performances and had me making a mental note of not missing any of her future ones.
Ima Castro was hilarious as Oda Mae Brown, the psychic medium who Sam enlists to communicate with Molly, though in my opinion, despite the vocal prowess she displayed, her musical number in the second act was unnecessarily long. Jamie Wilson, amazingly flexible actor and ever-present in Atlantis' productions, portrays the angry subway ghost that teaches Sam telekinesis to get in physical contact with the living world. Hans Eckstein charmingly plays Carl Bruner, the couple's friend and Sam's co-worker.
Atlantis Productions has always impressed me with the plays they stage. The set is always beautiful and a lot of props multi-functional, like the chest that turned into a car in Rock of Ages. Transitions from one scene to another are always snappy; no time is wasted, even with an entire change of setting and a lot of props being wheeled in and out of the stage. They didn't disappoint with Ghost The Musical, save perhaps for the ghostly background projections. It just sucks that they'll only be doing one other play this year, which is Shrek The Musical in September.
Ghost The Musical, directed by Bobby Garcia, will be having its last two shows tomorrow at 3 PM and 8 PM in the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati. For tickets, you may go to ticketworld.com.ph. Bring some tissue if you're watching.