You want to love “Ghost the Musical,” you really do.
Try as you might, you can’t do it. Oh, you’ll get a "like" to come out of you every now and then, especially when something from the stage musical now at Broward Center for the Performing Arts reminds you of the 1990 weep-fest of a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze.
But with the exception of some how-did-they-do-that special effects, the musical is ghost-busted.
The movie’s script won Bruce Joel Rubin an Academy Award, but his book for the musical never has the time (or takes the time) to hit you in the gut.
At Tuesday’s opening-night performance, when the music wasn’t sabotaged by splotchy-blotchy microphones and tinny-tiny amplification, it was just plain dreary and vapid. You expect so much more from a score by Dave Stewart (half of Eurythmics and a successful composer for movie soundtracks) and Glen Ballard (songwriter and record producer who has worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Alanis Morissette).
At least the story is the same. Just as dewy couple Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) and Molly (Katie Postotnik) settle into their Brooklyn loft in newfound cooing couplehood — cue an acoustic rendition of “Unchained Melody” — they are ripped from each other. Um, big spoiler alert here, but Sam is murdered, and the rest of the show is about him materializing all around New York, refusing to leave until Molly’s safety is ensured, with the help of psychic Oda Mae (Carla R. Stewart).
The leads are unspectacular, if not good at singing in a conversational way that suggests intimacy. But what are you going to do when your co-star is a scrim and manages to upstage you with projections and videos? Honestly, the dancers seem superfluous in front of such wow-inducing wattage.
Illusionist Paul Kieve has come up with some nifty stagecraft, from levitation and transformation to appearance/disappearance and passing through solid objects. At times, it feels as if the story is pummeled by the whiz-bangness of the show’s showiness and comes off textureless.
Then, at the end, repeating a line from the movie, Sam says to Molly, “The love, you take it with you.” You finally feel something. There! That right there. We needed 2 and half hours of that.
“Ghost the Musical” will run through May 11 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 6:30 p.m. Sundays, with 2 p.m. matinees Saturdays (and Wednesday, May 7) and 1 p.m. matinees Sundays. Tickets cost from $34.50 to $74.50. Call 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCenter.org.