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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Musicals 'n' Stuff | Ghost the Musical

This week my mum asked if I wanted to tag along with my dad and her to see Ghost the Musical at the Grand Opera House in Belfast. I've been itching to see another musical for a while now so I jumped at the chance. She invited my sister, Eva, too but it turned out she was working so she couldn't come. My dad then dropped out also, so it ended up just a mother and daughter night.. My mum and I don't do a lot together despite the fact she's supposed to be my main carer. While our family is close, we don't do a lot as a family. I think now that my parents have moved out, my mum wants to make more of an effort to spend quality time together. I'm totally up for that if it means we get to see more kick ass musicals.

I was intrigued and excited to see Ghost the Musical for a few reasons. I haven't actually seen the film. I mean I've seen bits of it but I've never sat down and fully watched it from start to finish. I'm not a great lover of films that don't have a happy ending, so despite loving Patrick Swayze I had never made the effort. And even though I love musical theatre, I was completely unaware it had been adapted into a musical. I decided I wouldn't look up any of the songs before the show and let the whole thing be a new experience. Then there was the fact it was a non-professional performance by the Ulster Operatic Company. It's been years since I've been to one of those. My sister used to be very involved in musical theatre but since she stopped, I've only seen touring West End Productions. I was looking forward to seeing what our local talent had to offer and speaking of local talent, one of the reasons my mum had wanted to go in the first place was because a family friend - who also happened to be my old stage school teacher - was playing Oda Mae Brown, the character originally played by Whoopi Goldberg.

Kelly Brown (pictured above) as Oda Mae Brown

So needless to say I felt much excitement and intrigue. I got all dolled up - which means I wore a shirt instead of a t-shirt - and set off with my mum to catch the train to Belfast. I grabbed a couple of photos with my mum while we waited on the train. She doesn't usually let me take photos of her but I guess she was feeling her show going fantasy. 

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me ranting about some issues we ran into when boarding the train. When the train stopped the door to the disabled section was in front of a bench. From previous experience I know that I cannot use the ramp when it's that close to the bench and usually they move the train up so I can get on. 

When the train conductor was putting the ramp out I informed him I wouldn't be able to get on because of the bench. He told me that I would and to give it a try. I explained I'd tried before and I knew I couldn't. He proceeded to again tell me to try and that others had gotten over the lip on the side of the ramp that's just over 2 inches approximately. I told him I wouldn't be able to do that. He didn't seem convinced but nonetheless he changed his tactic. He told me to position myself in front of the door, backed up against the bench and he'd place the ramp in front of me. He wasn't taking no for an answer and my mum told me to give it a try - much to my annoyance - and so I did. When the ramp was positioned it meant the pegs that hold the ramp in place weren't secured into the step of the train, but apparently my safety wasn't important so I was urged to drive on into the train anyway. I wasn't happy about it but by this time I was conscious of the fact we were keeping the train back.

Once inside the train the conductor seemed pretty pleased with himself and sort of laughed when he said "So others have had to move the whole train, huh?" He seemed so proud of himself I couldn't hide my annoyance when I told him that's because it's the safer option as the ramp wasn't secured properly. That seemed to rain on his parade a little as he assured us he was going to report the issue. I've never thought to before because no one else has had an issue with taking a minute or two to move the train up a little bit. Although it put me into a little bit of a bad mood, I did take one positive away from it. I was really proud of myself for sticking up for myself rather than being all apologetic, polite and too scared to put my foot down. I've come a long way in regards to my social anxiety. When I was younger I probably would have given it a try when he first asked, even if I knew from experience it wouldn't work.

Anyway! On with Ghost the Musical.

The train station is right beside the Grand Opera House so we went and got our tickets before grabbing a drink at the bar and lounge area. My mum got wine and I opted for a latte. I was running on breakfast only and by this stage it was 7pm so I was hella hungry. To kerb my hunger I also got a little tub of Pringles.

It seemed as though we just got in on time as after we bought our drinks the crowds really started to come in. I was a little worried at first because there really wasn't many people but by the time the show was ready to start it looked like pretty much a full audience from where I was sitting. Before we went in to be seated I bumped into my P7 teacher. I hadn't seen her since I left primary school when I was 11, so I'm surprised she recognised me. She was telling me she was there with a bunch of the teachers from my old school as a new teacher was part of the show. So that was cool.

In the past when I've seen shows in the Grand Opera House we've always been on the ground floor but this time those wheelchair seats were taken so we were up in the balcony. I was excited to see what the view from there would be like and I was not disappointed.

Because I was at the end of the row and there was nobody behind me, it meant that I could raise my chair up and see everything really well and by more comfortable. I'll definitely be looking for these seats again in the future. The Grand Opera House is one of my favourite buildings in Belfast as it's just so beautiful and historic. There's also a lot of nostalgia attached to it from going to see my older sister perform there as a child. I wish I had been able to take a few more photos before the show started but all I have is one more that really doesn't do the place justice.

When the lights dimmed and the band began to play I was hit with a sudden wave of emotion. Not a lot of things move me but musicals - or rather the music - always does. Then when the actors began singing and she show got underway, any questions of the difference in quality we might see from the fact this was a non-professional production compared to the other's I'd seen were blasted away. They were just amazing, from the main cast to the ensemble. 

Johanna Johnston was just immense as Molly and she and Boyd Rodgers had such great chemistry. Sean Harkin captured the 'bad guy' role brilliantly too. Then there was Kelly's role as Oda Mae. I was a little confused at first by the styling choice and the fact she had an accent I never associated with the character before (I'm not actually sure what the accent was. Italian? Spanish maybe?) but she pulled the whole thing off really well. She was hilarious and had such great comedic timing but her voice was also so powerful. I know she used to be my stage school teacher and I've always known she was super talented but I don't think I fully appreciated it until that night. She had actually dropped away from theatre for eight years to concentrate on her family and had only recently got involved again, this being her come back. You would think that perhaps she'd be rusty but not at all.

The whole production and set was just immense and so well put together. I'm really bummed out my sister, Eva, didn't get to come along with us. The show only ran from Tuesday to Saturday or I definitely would have gone again with Eva but she was working every day.

As for the musical itself, I just loved it. I've been listening the soundtrack on Spotify ever since, which makes a change from Hamilton. While I didn't cry, I definitely allowed myself to become invested in the story and the characters, more than I usually would when I know there isn't a happy ending to be had. There was also times it really did hit me in the feels. Though, not as much as my mum and the majority of the women near us in the theatre. My mum was a mess, as were many of the other women. 

All in all, I just didn't want it to end. I look forward to seeing more from the Ulster Operatic Company in the future and hopefully I'll maybe get to see Ghost the Musical in the future again too. I imagine by that time I'll be able to belt out every song along with those on stage. I can't wait!


  1. Ah this is a lovely round-up of your evening, I almost feel like I was there with you <3

    Mel ★ www.meleaglestone.co.uk

  2. As the Chairman of Ulster Operatic Company - thank you for your kind words! Although non-professional, this was a show with a fantastic principal line-up, and superb ensemble who all worked together through many, many hours of rehearsal along with our very talented musical director and choreographer to achieve our director's vision.
    Come and see us next year in Monty Python's Spamalot! - a total change of direction!


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