INTERVIEW: Ghost The Musical: An Interview with writer, Bruce Joel Rubin

As a veteran Hollywood screenwriter once pithily observed “Nobody knows anything” and this aphorism regarding the unpredictability of audience favour could well be applied to the 1990 movie version of Ghost.

A film which wins a couple of Oscars and achieves a worldwide Box Office gross of more than $500,000,000 must have had every Hollywood studio rolling out the red carpet to writer Bruce Joel Rubin when he came to sell the movie. Not a bit of it!

Writer, Bruce Joel Rubin

Writer, Bruce Joel Rubin

“I spent two years pitching the idea to producers and to studio executives and the story got better every time,” Rubin wryly recalls. “They’d sit there with a glazed look in their eyes and I had to find a way of grabbing their attention. So I clapped my hands at the moment I was telling them about Sam being shot and the shock was so great that they jumped up and started listening to me. They were really intrigued by the idea of Sam looking at his own corpse.”

Apart from collecting the Oscar for Ghost, Rubin’s other screenplays include Jacob’s Ladder, Deep Impact and The Time Traveller’s Wife. But perhaps none of these stories would have been written, had Rubin not undergone an extraordinary experience in the 1960s. It was the dawning of the age of psychedelia, when experimentation with drugs as a means of expanding one’s mind was becoming part of the vibrant counter-culture. One day Rubin, almost unknowingly and due to a bizarre combination of circumstances, absorbed a lethal amount of LSD.

“I ended up being taken on an extraordinary journey. In fact, I thought that I had died- I ought to have died. But I believe that I was deliberately spared by whoever- whatever in order to tell stories. I feel as if I have a mission.”

Rubin also went on a physical journey through Central Asia, steeping himself in Eastern philosophies and learning how to use meditation as a means of exploring the mysteries of life.

“I remember spending the night in a roofless hut in Afghanistan, looking up at the stars. I knew I had stories to tell but I didn’t know what those stories were or how I could put those stories into words.”

One of the themes which Rubin has explored in his work is the area, as depicted in Ghost between life and death, between existence and non-existence, about the meaning of life itself. When we die, is that the end? Or is there something after death, shaped by a single all-consuming intelligence?

“Your life is a very big deal but is it a complete blank-out at the end? When you reach that stage of your life, are you held accountable for what you may or may not have done? And if you are held accountable, who or what is judging you? Often people are not so much bad- they simply don’t follow the rule-book. The Ten Commandments I use as my rule-book.

Even after Ghost had been made and was being prepared for its release, Rubin was not optimistic about its chances at the Box Office.

Stewart Clarke & Rebecca Trehearn star as Sam and Molly  in Ghost The Musical - Photo Credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Stewart Clarke & Rebecca Trehearn star as Sam and Molly in Ghost The Musical – Photo Credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

“I was in a car with Jerry Zucker, who directed Ghost, and with the President of Paramount, and we were driving towards the movie theatre where the film was due to open. We were amazed to see all those people standing in line, waiting for the late night screening. The worldwide success of Ghost was unexpected in every way. We had no idea how it would be received and I still don’t quite understand the effect it had on people.”

Rubin has always had a weakness for ghost stories with a particular affection for Caspar the Friendly Ghost and for Topper, the hero of a number of films in the 1930s and 40s, with Cary Grant as the charming spectre.

“In a way, I wanted to tell a ghost story from the point of view of a ghost, looking back on his life” he explains. “Hamlet’s father was a key part of my thinking. He orders Hamlet to avenge his murder and I started to wonder how this story would play in New York City in 1990.”

As it turned out, it played extremely well. Given the film’s broad international appeal and spectacular success at the Box Office, it is not surprising that Rubin came under considerable pressure to write a sequel or to give his permission for the story to be turned into a stage musical.

He firmly rebuffed every approach until two producers appeared with whom Rubin felt an immediate rapport.

“They came to my home and we talked for so long that they missed their train back to New York and had to stay over. ”recalls Rubin. “I had a vision of how the emotional moments in the story could be sung and how in that way, it would be more deeply felt. I saw opportunities. It is so seamlessly achieved that even with seventeen songs, the stage show runs for the same length of time as the movie.”

Rubin pays a generous tribute to Ghost director Matthew Warchus and his colleagues.

“Matthew is a genius. “he enthuses. “It’s the first time I’ve worked with such creative flair. I’ve been blessed. I was determined to be at rehearsals every day, although Matthew was against the idea, arguing that the actors would look at me to see if I agreed with what he was saying. I promised that I’d keep my mouth shut and I became a kind of a presence. I’ve found that the more you open your mouth, the less of a presence you become.”

Rubin’s interest in the musical theatre dates back to the early 1950s “The King and I was my first play” and as well as contributing the book and a number of the lyrics, he had a ringside seat as the show took shape.

“I sat in a state of awe, surrounded by an extraordinary level of creativity. I watched as the show developed stage by stage, as it flowered into full bloom. When we opened in Manchester, I didn’t know what to expect. At the end of the first performance, there was a level of response which I’d never experienced- people stamping their feet, whistling and cheering. Matthew warned me that this kind of audience reaction was all very well but we couldn’t be certain about what we had until it happened five nights in a row, and we had it on every night. Something in Ghost The Musical speaks to the audience. They laugh, they cry and in the transfer from screen to stage musical, I think that the story has deepened emotionally.”

Wendy Mae Brown as Oda Mae Brown & the Cast of Ghost The Musical. Photo credit:  Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Wendy Mae Brown as Oda Mae Brown & the Cast of Ghost The Musical. Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Rubin genuinely feels that his life was spared for a purpose “the experience told me to write about the experience”. “I just want to plant seeds in people’s minds,” he continues “and to encourage them to think about death, about not being alive. Most people have only a month, perhaps, or even a couple of seconds to prepare for the next stage and we have a duty to let go. You should use your life to let go of your life. When that plane landed in the Hudson a couple of years ago, one of the men involved went out on to a wing of the plane and apparently said to himself –Am I dead? And is my spirit like the guy in Ghost? You write a movie and you hope to expose people to the mystery of life and death. Perhaps Ghost, the movie and the stage musical, gives people their Sunday School moment of realisation about the mystery of life.”

Ghost, the Musical, is currently on a UK wide tour, coming to Manchester’s Opera House on July 2. For tickets visit the website here

 

**This is a syndicated interview

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Rocky Horror 40th Birthday After Show Party

As the curtain fell on the 40th Anniversary performance of the Rocky Horror Show at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, the chosen ones with the golden tickets of the evening were hot footing over to Brown’s on York Street.

Rocky Horror at the Manchester Palace

Rocky Horror at the Manchester Palace

Incidentally, the bar brasserie in the converted Athenaeum, formerly one of Manchester’s most famous pubs, was celebrating their 40th too!

Originally Parrs Bank, one of the city’s former opulent banking halls, the building was designed by Charles Heathcote in 1902 and the Edwardian baroque and art nouveau detailing was the perfect setting for an electrifying shindig.

My party partner in crime

My party partner in crime

As I mentioned in the previous post, Wednesdays aren’t particularly memorable but this was a different story. Having driven from home some 25 miles away with my party partner in crime (and cousin), I was somewhat put out that the vast cocktail menu was a free for all – Dammit Janet!

The AMAZEBALLS cake

The AMAZEBALLS cake

But…my luck was in. A quick text to the Mothership telling her how free the cocktails were and she and my Pops were to the rescue. Yes, I’m 27, but when the Parental taxi offers a lift you do.not.decline. Win!

The rest of the evening was spent schmoozing with the cast and VIPs (including Reg Holdsworth – remember him Corrie fans), trying out every cocktail on the menu and trying to eat canapes in a ladylike fashion (note: not easy).

Now, inside of this little shell of a reporter lies a tortured thesp. I spent ten years at a drama school and had lofty ambitions of one day being a West End star. However, the lack of a singing voice soon put paid to that. Ha. So being at the shindig didn’t half indulge my inner Showstopper.

Reg!

Reg!

I cosied up to the B.E.A.UTIFUL Kara Lane (she played Janet for two years and toured Australia with the company) and the GORGEOUS Henry Davis, who, incidentally, looks just as delicious clothed as he does larking about as Rocky in gold hotpants – ladies, you need to see him!

The gorgeous Kara Lane and I

The gorgeous Kara Lane and I

But alas, all good things must come to an end an my pumpkin soon arrived. Nattering away in the back seat of the car I came to the conclusion that only amateurs go out on a Saturday night – Wednesday’s are back!

 

REVIEW: Rocky Horror’s 40th Anniversary, Manchester

Wednesday nights aren’t usually that special. Sure, Corrie’s on and it’s the hump of the week so the weekend seems a little bit closer, but Wednesdays, overall, aren’t that interesting.

Except last Wednesday…………which was spectacular.

40 years ago, a little show opened in front of a 63-seat theatre, upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre on London’s King’s Road.

The Rocky Horror Show would go on to become a cult classic and, last night, Manchester played host to the 40th Anniversary gala performance.

Prior to any action appearing on stage, paparazzi gathered outside the Palace Theatre to catch a glimpse of any celebrity taking the opportunity to dress up in the show’s trademark stockings and suspenders, and the growing mob of Frank’s, Columbia’s, Riff Raff’s etc were a sight to behold.

Not braving the ‘look’ myself, it was still “astounding” (scuse the pun) to see such a spectacle even before the curtain was raised. And who am I to complain about buff men parading around in rather small gold hotpants? #

Anyway, I digress…back to the show.

I’ve always been a fan of this weird and wonderful spectacular, even when I was younger – I just didn’t really ‘get’ all the innuendo.

Dani Harmer and Sam Attwater in Rocky Horror

Dani Harmer and Sam Attwater in Rocky Horror

The current tour sees CBBC’s Dani Harmer (known to some as Tracy Beaker, to others as the girl who ended up in the final of Strictly last year) in the role of Janet, opposite former Eastender and Dancing on Ice winner, Sam Attwater’s Brad.

While both can keep up with the footwork and there is no denying they’ve got good voices (who knew that about Dani?) the pair seemed a little lost in their respective parts. Dani Harmer made me feel slightly uncomfortable when she sang Janet’s ‘Toucha Touch Me’ , I think needs to shake the innocence of a child star if she’s going to sing about being so provocative. And as for Attwater, while he tried, there was just no spark. Shame.

Other principle cast members fared a little better. Oliver Thornton paraded effortlessly in Frank N Furter’s high heels and touched on much-loved Tim Curry elements just enough to make the character his own but recognisable. Having also been part of the original West End cast of Priscilla, Queen of The Desert Thornton appeared more at home in heels than most women I know on a Saturday night out.

Oliver Thornton as Frank N Furter

Oliver Thornton as Frank N Furter

Special mention must go to veteran actor and RSC member, Philip Franks in the role of the narrator who dealt with audience banter with aplomb; Mancunian references included, and had witty comebacks galore.

After the final Timewarp, a screen descended from on high, displaying well-wishes for the 40th Birthday from touring casts around the world and then, the man himself, creator of Rocky Horror and my favourite Crystal Maze presenter, Richard O’ Brien, sent a heartfelt message from his native New Zealand commenting on how he had created the show while he was a mere babe.

After a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the cast it was off to Brown’s on York Street, Manchester – incidentally who were also celebrating their 40th – for a luvvie, lavish after show celebration – more of which after the break!

INTERVIEW: Avicii : Q&A

Say the name Tim Bergling, and, more than likely, you will be met with ‘Who?’

But say ‘Avicii’ and you’d be hard pushed to find someone who hadn’t heard of the 23-year-old DJ.

avicii-joe-gazzola

Ranked  No. 3 on the Top 100 DJs list by DJ Magazine, there’s no stopping the Swedish superstar and, before he makes the annual pilgrimage to Creamfields this August, we had a quick chat. 

What and who first got you excited about music?

I grew up listening to a lot of Ray Charles and 60s rock thanks to my father, and then my brothers got me into Kiss and whatnot, so I guess that’s where I got my first taste and excitement for music.

When was it you realised you could start making it yourself and at that time did you ever think it would go this far?

A friend of mine showed me FL Studio. I’ve been hooked from the minute I first got it. I would spend almost 12 hours a day producing. I worked really hard to get where am today but I truly had no idea I would make it this far. If I hadn’t met Ash, my manager, I probably wouldn’t be.

Was it a surprise being ranked number 3 in DJ Mags Top 100 DJs list last year?

It was a great honor to be ranked #3, especially amongst such great DJs. However, I never really check my rank. It’s always flattering if you get a good ranking but I don’t know how much it actually helps.

Who is the best DJ in the world right now in your opinion?

There is so much talent out there right now, it’s really incredible. I just can’t narrow it down to one DJ or producer.

Dance music is constantly evolving; we’ve had dub step, grime, moombathon, what’s the next big thing?

Only time will tell how dance music will evolve, it will be interesting to see where it goes.

avicii-2

What do you think sets you apart from other DJs?

I’ve been working a lot on getting a signature sound, the big-room melodic sound which I think sets me apart from other producers and what they’re doing.

You’ve produced tracks with some world-renowned artists, who has been the most fun to work with?

That is a hard question. I loved working with all of them in some way to be honest.

 Who has so far escaped you collaboration wise and who are you looking to work with in the future

To my knowledge, no one has escaped yet! But then again I never reach out; it’s always my manager, Ash, who handles all of that. My dream collaboration would be Adele.

 The Avicii X You project invited anyone in the world to contribute to a song that you would produce, what was the response like and are you happy with the finished track?

This track was such a unique experience. I wanted my fans to be a part of the process that goes along with making a track and see what we could create together, and we did just that. I received about 13,000 submissions and put some final touches on it in the studio. I think the track turned out to be a great learning experience and success.

You’re playing at Creamfields in August, what’s it like playing a festival compared to a club?

It’s just two different types of vibes. A good club show can be as good as a good

festival but obviously in a different way. Festivals are way bigger, and seeing the reactions of twenty thousand people jumping can yield different results than playing to a club.

Is there anyone you’re looking forward to watching perform at Creamfields this year?

I’m not sure what I can and can’t say right now but I’m always trying to do something really special for such big festivals as Creamfields.

Where would you go for the perfect night out?

I’m not sure, I guess it really depends on where I am but I really like the food over at Berns in Stockholm, Sweden.

What’s on your mixtape?

I listen to a lot of music when I’m working so when I’m off I tend to not listen to anything at all.

National Vegetarian Weeks: Days Six and Seven

And on the sixth day…………….I caved *sad face*

But all was not lost.

305-Ocean-Salt-resized

 

Though I had failed spectacularly on Saturday night – M&S’ Two Dine for £10 deal was on and there was no way Mr Mc was going to EVER go for the veggie option – I was still waving my veggie flag high and wondered if there was a loophole I could get through meaning I could still get away with having vegetarian influences in my life.

So, I thought I’d try an alternative way to be veggie. 
460-Vanishing-Cream-resized

Enter, my Green Good Fairy, Lush.

Their cosmetics are full of fresh fruit and veg and made with organic ingredients where possible so all was not lost.

AND our furry little friends are safe, because, as many of you know, the cosmetics are not tested on animals *hurrah*

So, they are 100% suitable for vegetarian155-Flying-Fox-resized 29-Angels-on-Bare-Skin-resizeds and a whopping 80% are approved by the Vegan Society.

I was sent a lovely little package consisting of the Flying Fox shower gel, Angels on Bare Skin facial cleanser and the Vanishing Cream moisturiser.

Happily for me I was also sent the Ocean Salt face and body scrub that I had recently run out of so *bonus*.

As of yet I haven’t tried out the latter three but the Flying Fox shower gel is an absolute joy. The smell is quite unusual but it certainly wakes you up in the morning because the honey that is used in the gel gives it a glorious scent. Mr Mc asked me what the smell was after I’d used it and now I can’t stop him from nabbing it. Plus you can smell the scent on your skin for most of the day.

Also, it’s especially good at The Time of the Month, because Lush have added the top essential oils for calming PMT AND it doubles as a shampoo (not tried this yet) – win

Will have to let you know when I use the rest so I can give you an update 🙂

Overall, the experience of spending a week as a veggie wasn’t as hard as I had originally thought, all it takes is a little planning and imagination. I’d recommend  it if you fancy challenging yourself.