January 25, 2012

The Ghost Light Sessions

The musical Ghost which has been playing in London held a sneak peek presentation at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater last Thursday Jan 19. As I arrived that evening, there were huge trucks outside of the theater, which I would later learn to be the production moving in to their new digs. Staff of the event wore white hard hats to coincide maybe to the moving in theme or maybe to the first scene of the production when the characters demolish their way to they new loft apartment.

I picked up my "press" pass and enjoyed some frozen "Ghost" vodka and some sliders before taking my seat. The stage looked like it was moving in day: moving crates strewn about and the back brick wall was exposed behind them. There were microphones in the form of the traditional "ghost light" which is apparently the light kept onstage constantly to ward away the ghosts of productions past. From the lack of a true set, I concluded that this was to be more of a "concert" rather than a glimpse of the actual production, reminiscent of the Les Mis anniversary concerts.

The evening was hosted by one of the producers who explained the history of the production and how well received it has been in London. The two stars Richard Fleeshman (Sam Wheat) and Cassie Levy (Molly) took the stage to sing "Here Right Now". There was something off with their mikes as the sound quality was a little off, which persisted throughout the whole concert. I noticed that the host actually had a better mike. Maybe the sound people reduced the sensitvity of the mike of the singers (?). Though I was expecting to be starstruck by the cast, I actually enjoyed hearing more from the people behind the musical. Bruce Joel Rubin who did the screenplay of the movie and also did the book and lyrics of the musical expressed how he was at first strongly opposed to the musical and his journey to be completely involved in it, including how he got the idea for "Ditto" (thankfully, I had just recently seen Ghost again by chance about 3 weeks prior when it played on the AMC channel at work so I knew about the Ditto reference).

Cassie Levy then sang "With You" and in the words of Seth Rudetsky she was was "amahzing". The songwriters later explained that they started with the lyric "Without You" to embody Molly's loss but it's banality led them to change it to "With You". Unfortunately, "Without You" from Rent played in my head for the rest of the night. They then introduced Dave Stewart (the other half of Eurythmics) by a short video clip of the songs he has written mostly for Eurythmics but also for other artists (he wrote "Underneath It All" by No Doubt). Then to introduce the other songwriter Glen Ballard, they also played a video clip of his compositions which started with the opening bars of Thank U from Alanis Morissette which made my hairs stand on end (disclosure: I am a HUGE Alanis fan). He is very prolific and successful songwriter, writing for Dave Matthews Band, Michael Jackson ("Man in the Mirror"), Wilson Phillips, Katy Perry, Idina Menzel, and yes, Lea Salonga).

I had to leave before the final number but was pleased to receive a CD of the musical! I listened to it this weekend while driving though the snow. Very rock pop, very accessible, with a few Disney-esque musical numbers. In other words, I think it will be a hit! I saw a clip of it on Youtube and the set looks very high tech. But what will Ben Brantley think....

Anyway, here's that YouTube video. The actual event was apprently broadcast on Facebook last night so you may be able to check it out there:


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