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Hale Centre Theatre to stage regional premiere of 'Ghost the Musical'

WEST VALLEY CITY — People who think they've seen "Ghost" because they saw the movie 15 years ago haven't seen the story at all, says the director of "Ghost the Musical" at Hale Centre Theatre.

Chris Clark believes the musical, which opens Feb. 20 and runs through April 11, adds an emotional depth to the story that can touch the audience in new ways.

"The thing that I think is most remarkable about 'Ghost' is the beauty and simplicity of it," Clark said. "It's a really fantastic story. We've tried to strip the musical down to the bare bones as much as possible so we can focus on that story, and I'm excited about what we've done."

Derek Smith and Keith McKay Evans are double cast to play the role of Sam Wheat, the boyfriend who is killed in a street mugging but gets stuck in between worlds.

He discovers the love of his life, Molly, is in danger, and so he tries to help her.

Anna Daines Rennaker and Bre Welch will take turns playing Molly Jensen in the story that features the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" in a signature love scene at the potter's wheel.

Although Sam dies, he doesn't move on. He becomes a ghost. When he discovers Molly's life is in danger, he tries to save her through a clever medium who is actually a fake, a role that won Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar nomination for her work in the 1990 film.

“This show is a little different from the classics Hale Centre Theatre regulars might be used to, because the story takes place in modern New York City,” HCT vice president and executive producer Sally Dietlein said in a news release. “There’s a certain element of magic in the show that will really blow the crowd away and leave them awestruck.”

She said audiences will be charmed by the dynamic music, urban set design and theater magic.

Musical director Kelly DeHaan said the music for "Ghost" is "very cool."

"It's poppy and edgy yet accessible," DeHaan said. "The backup vocals are especially sweet in the show and will be sung by people who will be up in the catwalk above the actors from time to time representing the masses of New York City or people who have passed away."

DeHaan said the lead vocalists are especially amazing.

"We have guys playing the guitar and singing love songs, and we have girls who can just open up and wail. We have two gals playing who can really bring it home," he added. "It's the music that takes the story to the next level."

Music in the iconic show includes the well-loved "Unchained Melody," along with love songs and ballads that speak of loss and hope in the face of death.

"The show is beautiful, very heartfelt and emotional and yet very funny," DeHaan said.

In a first for Hale Centre Theatre, the lead actors will use laptops, cellphones and social media accounts to post live Instagram photos throughout the production. Audience members are invited to follow Molly and Sam on Instagram at samandmollyhct.

"It's just a really beautiful, simple love story with fantastic music," Clark said. "And it's a regional premiere, so I'm excited for people to see it for the first time."

If you go ...

What: "Ghost the Musical"

Where: Hale Centre Theatre, 3333 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City

When: Feb. 20-April 11, 7:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Saturday matinees at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

How much: $30-$33 for adults, $16 for children ages 5-11

Phone: 801-984-9000

Website: hct.org

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com