Upon arrival to the New Alexandra Theatre we were immersed by a magical pre-set gauze effect, which really produced a buzz of excitement as to what lay behind. Unfortunately what did was disappointing.
As the preset curtain rose, Mark Bailey's set seemed unsure of itself, confusing abstract flats with naturalistic back drops and a lack of rehearsed entrances and transitions. Nick Riching's lighting design did not stun either, it simply lacked energy and at times was a little panto-esque in its 'ghost' effects. Sound levels were low, lacked impact and due to some opening night glitches several lines were missed in dialogue and songs with mics not being on.
Sarah Harding's name sold the New Alexandra Theatre well, but unfortunately her performance did not live up to expectations. Some dodgy stage slaps, unsure vocal arrangements and line missing pulled all members of the audience into wondering the intentions behind this casting. Her on stage ghost Sam (played by Andy Moss) was good, but his characterisation seemed overly melodramatic at times.
Having said this, Alistair David's choreography did save the large ensemble numbers with some innovative tight routines, which the company held well. The choreography dazzled from early on, particularly during More, as the workers bustle through New York City.
Both the hospital ghost (James Earl Adair) and subway ghost (Garry Lee Netley) brought some energy to the plot in their songs. Further strong performances came from Jacqui Dubiois who shone as the mysterious and comical Oda Mae, providing some much-needed relief. Her solo in Act Two, I'm Outta Here brought an air of excitement as the show reached its climax, but this was not enough to save the rest of the performance.
Bill Kenwright's scaled down production does not live up to the expectation the previous West End and Touring productions have set. Placing a star name at the forefront of the production, it questions the producers intentions for such a fantastic piece of theatre.
Ghost runs at the New Alexandra Theatre this week before continuing it's UK Tour into 2017.
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