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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘Ghost The Musical’ opening a three-week run in Door County

Critic At Large

Peninsula Players Theatre

Ashley Lanyon and Will Skrip rehearse a scene for their featured roles in “Ghost The Musical,” to be presented by Peninsula Players Theatre. (Brian Kelsey)

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV)

Peninsula Players Theatre will present “Ghost The Musical” starting Wednesday, July 31, in the company’s Theatre in a Garden.

After Wednesday, performances to Aug. 18 are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. Sundays except for 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18. Info: peninsulaplayers.com.

According to a press release: Written by Bruce Joel Rubin, Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame) and Glen Ballard, “Ghost The Musical” is based on the film “Ghost.”

“Ghost” was the surprise summer hit movie of 1990. It wove romance, comedy, suspense and the supernatural into one story. It also raised the popularity of its stars Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and earned Whoopi Goldberg an Academy Award for her performance of Oda Mae Brown.

Sam and Molly are a young couple whose relationship takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, Sam refuses to leave Molly when he learns she is in grave danger. Desperate to communicate with her, he turns to a storefront psychic, Oda Mae, who helps him protect Molly and avenge his death.

When the musical begins, Sam and Molly have just found the apartment of their dreams, but something is amiss at the bank which employs Sam and their good friend Carl. Sam tells Carl he has found some irregularities in specific accounts, so he updated the passwords on them and is carrying them in his wallet. 

In an attempt to gain access to the passwords, Carl hires Willie, a street thug, to mug Sam for his wallet. But during a struggle, Willie shoots Sam and takes off without the wallet.

After failed attempts to communicate with Molly, Sam seeks help and meets Oda Mae Brown. Oda Mae is a con artist with a heart of gold. She comes from a family of people who have “the gift” but she believes it skipped her until Sam asks for help. As a ghost, Sam longs to touch his loved one again, the lyrics and haunting tones of the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” underscoring the theme beautifully. The haunting ballad features lyrics about lovers who have not seen each other for a “long, lonely time.”

Linda Fortunato, who directed the Peninsula Players’ productions of “Living on Love,” “Lend Me a Tenor” and “The Fox on the Fairway,” is directing and choreographing this supernatural musical. Fortunato has many acting credits at Peninsula Players and is the artistic director for Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana.

“The exciting thing about ‘Ghost’ is that the wonderful story is composed of so many different elements,” Fortunato said. “At its heart, it is a compelling romance. The show is also incredibly funny and weaves together elements of the supernatural, a thriller and a mystery. The musical is quite true to the original film while being told in the new framework of a musical. I think fans of the movie will be pleased, and those who have never seen the movie will be delighted to discover this fun and moving story.”

Ashley Lanyon (“The Bridges of Madison County,” “The Full Monty” and “Nunsense”) and Will Skrip (“A Murder Is Announced,” “Chicago”) are cast as Sam and Molly, the young couple very much in love. Alexis J Roston (“A Murder Is Announced”) is cast as the larger-than-life Ode Mae.  

“Will and Ashley have extensive Chicago musical theater credits that include ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Les Misérables,’ ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Crazy for You,’” said Greg Vinkler, Peninsula Players’ artistic director. “Alexis’ portrayal of Billie Holiday in ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill’ earned her Chicago’s Jeff Award and Black Theatre Alliance Award. I am thrilled that Will, Ashley and Alexis will bring this romantic couple and comedic character to our Door County audiences.”

Peninsula Players is producing the re-tooled, smaller-cast version of the 2012 Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical that featured more than 24 performers. In 2016, Maine State Music Theatre and The Fulton Theatre re-shaped the musical to a cast of 10 by having some performers play more than one role. They also did some restaging, thus adding more intimacy to the story.

The cast includes Christie Coran as Mrs. Santiago, a client of Ode Mae, and Lee Palmer as a hospital ghost. Coran portrayed Mitzi the housekeeper and Inspector Craddock, respectively, in “A Murder Is Announced.” They will portray additional characters in “Ghost The Musical.”  

Joining them are newcomers Esteban Andres Cruz, as the street thug Willie; Jeffrey Todd Parrott, as Carl, Sam and Molly’s good friend; Camille Robinsonand Eben K Logan as Ode Mae’s sisters and other characters; and Denzel Tsopnang as the subway ghost.

The entire cast has numerous musical theater stage credits throughout Chicago including Court Theatre, Firebrand Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Porchlight, Victory Gardens Theater as well as regional tours and television credits. 

Valerie Maze (“Peter and the Starcatcher,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”) returns as music director, conducting Door County/Wisconsin musicians Janet Anderson, Lynn Gudmundsen, Craig McClelland, Bruce Newbern and George Sawyn. Making his Peninsula Players debut is cellist Michael Dewhirst.

Peninsula Players is a professional, not-for-profit theater that collaborates with members of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers; United Scenic Artists, a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists and Craftspeople; and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a theatrical union of stage directors and choreographers. The creative team includes award-winning regional designers. Creating the various locations in New York City are scenic designer Jeffrey D. Kmiec; costume designer Kärin Simonson Kopischke; sound designer Barry G. Funderburg; properties designer Wendy A. Huber and lighting designer Guy Rhodes.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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