Ghost the Musical

Through Sunday, June 11
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, Raleigh

NRACT offers performing arts classes, but its current production is more of a cautionary lesson about staging a musical. Bruce Joel Rubin wrote the screenplay for the 1990 blockbuster film starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, so his soapy script is faithful to its tale of love beyond the grave. But Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard’s workmanlike lyrics belabor generic big-city sentiments and characters’ emotions. Only in “Are You a Believer,” a first-act rave-up sung by psychic charlatan Oda Mae Brown (an entertaining Tina Morris-Anderson), do the words fully match the action.

Lauren Bamford’s incandescent voice and acting in the central role of Molly anchors the production, but other cast members struggled to keep up on Saturday night. John Millsaps was too reticent as Sam, Molly’s lover, and Jonathan Rand’s voice was noticeably weaker as the villainous Carl. The sound mix buried the lead vocals in “Here Right Now” and “I Had a Life,” and, even with a canned soundtrack, music director Diane Petteway’s anemic chorus couldn’t sell songs like “You Gotta Let Go.”

Awkward moments studded director Chasta Hamilton’s staging. Her choreography seemed pedestrian and cramped on Jen Leiner’s too-small stage, and, more than once, actors paused mid-scene, waiting for the prerecorded soundtrack to catch up. Other unwise choices had Molly serenading shirts, Sam’s ghost walking through a supposedly closed door that clearly wasn’t, and actors randomly exiting and re-entering the stage during the first-act finale. One strong lead aside, an uneven score, cast, and staging made this Ghost an oddly dispiriting experience.