By Paige Kieffer
The hauntingly romantic summer production “Ghost the Musical” will premiere 7:30 p.m., Saturday June 10, and will play until Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Old Log Theatre, 5185 Meadville St., Greenwood.
“Ghost the Musical” is based on the Oscar-winning film “Ghost” written by Bruce Joel Rubin and starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg.
The musical is described as a roller-coaster ride of romance, drama and excitement. Rubin adapted his screenplay for the stage that premiered in 2011 in Manchester, England.
The story is a timeless fantasy about the power of love that follows Sam Wheat (Frank Joseph Moran), and Molly Jensen (Mollie Fischer), a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death.
Sam is then trapped as a ghost between this world and the next trying to communicate with his girlfriend through a phony psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Heather McElrath), in the hope of saving her from his murderer.
Eric Morris, who’s an actor with the Old Log Theatre and played musician Jerry Lee Lewis in “Million Dollar Quartet,” is taking on the role of director for the first time.
“This production is a more heighten journey compared to the film,” said Morris. “Initially I remember seeing the movie and not really appreciating the story until I read through this script. I then watched the movie again and began to appreciate how well it’s done. It’s a great original story that combines the paranormal, crime, comedy and lush romance. It’s a multi-genre story and now were adding the musical part. There’s something for everyone. I’ve been transformed into a big ‘Ghost’ fan and others will too.”
The musical was brought to the Old Log Theatre by owner Greg Frankenfield, with a goal to adapt larger Broadway productions into smaller productions that fit regional theaters.
Morris said that the cast and crew has made the musical into an amazing production and have done well at effectively adapting the production for a smaller theater.
“The director has to get a really good group of collaborators and has to get them all on the same page,” Morris said. “Being an actor since I was 14 years old, you learn how you like to be directed and more importantly you learn how you don’t like to be directed. For me my goal was to get a group of collaborators together that are going to put these actors in the best possible light to succeed.”
Musical Stager and Choreographer Christine O’Grady was brought in having worked on “Ghost the Musical” productions in New York City.
O’Grady said that larger productions involved more than 30 people whereas the Old Log’s cast of “Ghost the Musical” is much smaller.
“It was difficult creating the hustle and bustle of New York City where it takes place,” she said. “Instead we tried to zero in what was important in the story.”
The musical features stunning music and lyrics by Grammy Award- winning legends Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and Glen Ballard, writer of Michael Jackson’s Man in The Mirror, and includes “Unchained Melody.”
Sam’s ghostly moments also proved to be an interesting experiment for the crew. Stage and Lighting Designer Erik Paulson, 3-D Projection Designer Miko Simmons and Sound Designer Jacob Davis worked together to create spooky special effects.
Moran said he enjoyed working with the special effects team and the music coordinators to help create the ghostly character of Sam.
“I obviously can’t compete with Patrick Swayze in this role, but I’ll bring the best interpretation of Sam to the stage,” he said. “I love the music and Sam has his own side to him, and he’s really uplifting as he navigates through this horrible thing happens to him.”
“Ghost the Musical” runs until Saturday, Sept. 23, with performances at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays–Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets can be purchased at oldlog.com or by calling 952-474-5951