Curtain call: Not ready for the kiln

By Allan I. Ross

“Ghost the Musical” falls short on chemistry

 In “Ghost the Musical,” playing at the Wharton Center this week, the pottery wheel and “Unchained Melody” successfully make the leap from the 1990 film to the stage. So do a couple nifty visual effects.

What doesn’t make it is the electrifying chemistry that made women swoon for supernatural beings two decades before sparkly vampires ruled the screens. Which would be fine, if the singers had some powerful pipes or there were some show-stopping dance numbers to drive the show along; alas, “Ghost the Musical” simply inhabits the stage instead of full on haunting it.

There were some cool parts. The Subway Ghost spookily spits his spoken word “Focus” with a malevolent energy. The diary entry “With You” is a radio-ready hit love ballad that feels like a lost Alanis Morissette track (unsurprisingly, Glen Ballard, who co-wrote the music with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, won a Grammy for his work with Morissette). And the Hospital Ghost chorus provided just the right amount of levity and exposition.

The special effects, devised by illusionist extraordinaire Paul Kieve, elicited gasps from the audience opening night. You will believe a man can be sucked through a door. But meaningless movement, odd blocking and bland dance numbers featuring bankers in suits (couldn’t they spring for, you know, costumes?) make the 2 1/2-hour show feel like limbo.

If you can make it to the end, though, it’ll still choke you up. Damned if I know how. Maybe it’s something about that combination of wet clay and Righteous Brothers.

“Ghost the Musical” The Wharton Center

7:30 p.m. tonight & Thursday, Dec. 12;

8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 & Saturday, Dec. 14;

2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14;

1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

$37-$72 ($25 students)

750 E. Shaw Lane, East Lansing (800) WHARTON,