'Ghost: The Musical' opens in Tampa

The stage version features stunning illusions

mclear@bradenton.comApril 17, 2014 

Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik star in "Ghost The Musical" tour. Joan Marcus/publicity photo


"Ghost" was the quintessential "chick flick," a sappy romance/supernatural thriller that almost no men admitted to liking, even though most of them probably did, at least a little bit. Bruce Joel Rubin won an Academy Award for his screenplay.

Three years ago, more than two decades after the film, "Ghost: The Musical" premiered in England. Rubin adapted his script, and two rock 'n' roll heavyweights -- Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame) and Glen Ballard (a Grammy-winner who wrote hits for Alanis Morrissette and Michael Jackson, among many others) -- wrote the lyrics and music.

The Broadway run opened in 2013 and earned several Tony Award nominations, but was only mildly successful commercial and critically.

Now "Ghost: The Musical" is coming to this area for the first time. The national tour will be at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa April 22-27.

The musical closely follows the plot of the film. Sam is mugged and murdered as he and his girlfriend, Molly, are walking home one night, and he becomes a ghost trapped between this world and the next.

Sam the ghost finds out that Molly is in danger, and -- because he can't communicate directly -- he enlists the help of a phony psychic to avenge his death and protect Molly.

Besides following the plot, the musical also includes the film's famous and often-parodied pottery scene, and incorporates the Righteous Brothers' version of "Unchained Melody."

One hallmark of the musical was its use of illusion to replace the special effects in the film.

Paul Kieve is the show's illusionist, and he was charged with recreated such essential scenes as the one in which Sam walks through a door.

His work impressed other illusionists: "It's rare for me to experience wonder, but my friend Paul Kieve gave me that experience for an illusion he created," David Copperfield tweeted.

Teller, the silent half of Penn & Teller, wrote that "loads of the conjuring fooled me, indeed took my breath away."

Details: April 22-27, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $46.50 -$81.50 plus service charge. Information: 813-229-7827, www.strazcenter.org.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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