They’re not related and Carla R. Stewart and David A. Stewart have very little in common except for their love of music.
Carla spent her younger days singing in a black church in Chicago, while Dave grew up in the 1960s playing folk rock gigs in Sunderland, England. Together, however, they make some beautiful music in the national touring production of “Ghost The Musical,” opening Saturday at Proctors.
“They may be pop writers,” said Carla Stewart, referring to Dave Stewart and his writing partner, Glen Ballard, “but what they did for this show is amazing. They took their genius for music and wrote incredible songs and an incredible score for this show. I am just so happy to be working with them and to be in this show.”
“Ghost The Musical” is based on the 1991 film “Ghost,” starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. The stage version opened on Broadway in April 2012, after a world premiere in London’s West End in March of 2011. Saturday’s 2 p.m. performance at Proctors will mark the beginning of the show’s North American Tour.
Enlisted to write
Carla Stewart plays one of the three central characters in the show, while it was Dave Stewart and Ballard who took Bruce Joel Rubin’s original screenplay for the movie and his adapted stage version and turned it into a musical.
’Ghost The Musical’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 1:30 and 8 p.m. Sept. 19, and 8 p.m. Sept. 20
HOW MUCH: $80-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
“I was approached by the producers [Colin Ingram and Dave Garfinkle] about six or seven years ago,” said Dave Stewart, who along with Annie Lennox formed The Eurythmics and put together a string of rock ’n’ roll singles during the 1980s. “They knew I wrote a lot of melodies with these huge arrangements, so they knew I didn’t just do straightforward pop or rock ’n’ roll. I think because of my songwriting, they contacted me and asked about writing a musical.”
To help him with this project, Stewart reached out to Ballard, who had written songs and produced for Michael Jackson, Alanis Morisette, The Pointer Sisters, the Dave Matthews Band and others.
“Glen and I were actually great friends and had co-written various things together,” said Stewart. “We already knew we were a good team, so we thought we’d give it a try.”
“Ghost” is the story of Sam, played by Steve Grant Douglas, and Molly, played by Katie Postotnik. The young married couple are mugged while walking back to their apartment one night, leaving Sam dead. Sam, however, is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next, and tries to communicate with Molly through Stewart’s character, a psychic named Oda Mae Brown.
Not mirroring Whoopi
Carla Stewart conceded that playing a character made famous by Whoopi Goldberg was a little bit daunting at first.
“When I got the role, I watched the movie version and I realized our script was pretty much identical,” she said. “Then I thought, ‘This is not a good idea.’ I didn’t watch the movie again. I love Whoopi and I love her performance, but I realized I definitely wanted to put myself into the role, not try to mirror the image that she portrayed. I wanted people to walk away with something new and different from what they saw in the movie.”
Stewart said she felt an immediate connection to Oda Mae when she watched the movie.
“I saw it long before it was on Broadway, and I thought the movie was just an incredible story,” she said. “To take this great movie and to add wonderful music to it was a great idea. It’s so emotional, and there is a lot of joy and happiness in the show. And to be a part of bringing that to other people is fantastic.”
Thread of the story
As for Dave Stewart, getting moved by musicals is nothing new.
“When I was about 4 my father would buy these musicals on vinyl and play them every morning,” he said. “That was my world back then, my entry into music. I love the fact that musicals can marry the narrative of a story with the music and give the audience a whole emotional ride into the next scene. I loved ‘South Pacific,’ so I liked all the old classics. But I also enjoy the new ones, like ‘The Book of Mormon.’ It’s wonderful how music can propel a narrative in a short space of time. The songs become the thread of the story.”
Carla Stewart says it’s hard to pick a favorite song from this production, but if pressed she will come up with one.
“I have a lot of favorites right now, but ‘Suspend My Disbelief,’ near the end of the first act, is just a great song,” she said. “Every day in rehearsal when we do that song, everybody gets into it. My arms are up in the air, and it’s so rich when Molly is singing it and then the whole company joins in. The harmony is heavenly.”
Connected to character
While Stewart may be putting her own stamp on Oda Mae, she says playing that kind of character is not a stretch for her.
“I totally get who she is, and she is a little outspoken like me,” said Stewart. “She can be sassy and bossy, and I can be that way at times. Oda Mae is very sure of who she is, and I think I’m well-equipped to play that role.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.