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Co-stars of ‘Ghost The Musical’ agree: Magic dwells in unchained illusions, mystic melody

Submitted by on Jan 6, 2014 – 3:46 pm

Katie Postotnik and Steven Grant Douglas play   lovers distanced by death in a national tour of 'Ghost The Musical' at the Oriental Theatre. (Joan Marcus)Preview: Katie Postotnik and Steven Grant Douglas play lovers reaching across death in the touring production presented by Broadway in Chicago Jan. 8-19 at the Oriental Theatre.

By Lawrence B. Johnson

Onstage romance doesn’t come more charged or emotionally draining than the supernatural stuff of “Ghost The Musical,” says Katie Postotnik, co-star of the nationally touring production that opens Jan. 8 at the Oriental Theatre. 

Molly (Katie Postotnik) and Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) before tragedy separates them in 'Ghost The Musical' presented by Broadway in Chicago. (Joan Marcus)Postotnik portrays Molly, the young woman whose soul mate Sam is murdered early in the story. With Molly’s safety also threatened and Sam’s spirit hovering near her, she finds herself pushed and pulled by issues beyond her understanding.

“Molly’s in a state of shock. She’s numb and depressed,” says Postotnik, a Wisconsin native who last appeared in Chicago with the touring production of “Rock of Ages.” “Molly realizes Sam is there and she really wants to connect with him. You have to let yourself feel that. It’s a challenge to be emotionally vulnerable and open through every performance.”

Opposite Postotnik as Sam, the role famously associated with Patrick Swayze in the 1990 film “Ghost,” Steven Grant Douglas says the dramatic trick for him is making the leap from the care-free personality of a young, optimistic man full of life to a spiritual being fraught with concern for Molly’s welfare. The desperate incorporeal Sam even seeks help from a phony medium.

“Before his death, Sam has everything a guy could want,” says Douglas. “He has a great girlfriend, a dream apartment, a successful career. He’s at the top of the chain. He’s a playful, good-natured, happy guy. But once he passes away, he begins a serious journey – to discover who killed him, and why, and to protect Molly — and he undertakes it with incredible perseverance.

The murdered Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) seeks help from a medium (Carla R. Stewart) in 'Ghost The Musical' at the Oriental Theatre. (Joan Marcus)“I can relate to that personally. I come from an athletic background, in football, basketball and track and field, and I think the constant effort required in sports helps me get into that side of Sam. It’s a roller-coaster journey – emotionally, physically and vocally.”

As for the the songs of “Ghost The Musical,” the Minnesota-born Douglas and Postotnik share boundless enthusiasm.

“Vocally, this is the most difficult show I’ve done, but also the most exciting,” says Douglas. “I love the songs for their variety. They’re not all in one register, which makes them both challenging and interesting to sing night after night.”

Postotnik notes that the musical score – composed by David A. Stewart and Glen Ballard with lyrics by the composers and Bruce Joel Rubin – makes imaginative and dramatically integrated use of “Unchained Melody,” a signature motif of the film which featured the hugely popular 1965 recording by the Righteous Brothers.

Molly (Katie Postotnik) in a happy moment in 'Ghost The Musical' presented by Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre. (Joan Marcus)“It’s very smart the way it’s woven into this show, giving clues and  making connections,” says Postotnik. “And I love singing Molly’s song ‘With You.’ It comes at a very intimate moment, when I’m sitting alone – in a show filled with so much spectacle and magic.”

Ah, yes, the magic.

“Our show is technically advanced,” says Postotnik, “with two huge LED video screen walls that move up and down, high-tech set drops and magic tricks like Sam walking through the door. It’s amazing to watch.”

Adds Douglas: “The illusions are unlike any you’ve ever seen in a Broadway musical. But the cool thing about these illusions is that they aren’t there just to be flashy. They help tell the story. In fact, they’re essential to getting from Point A to Point B. You see people’s souls escaping from their bodies and passing through solid objects. Visually and sonically, some pretty amazing things happen for a live audience. We hear the gasps. It’s really fun.”

Lovers Sam (Steven Grant Douglas) and Molly (Katie Postotnik) share a surreal moment in 'Ghost The Musical' presented by Broadway in Chicago. (Joan Marcus)Both actors said their most frequently asked question is, “How did they do that?” But the only answer you’ll get, says Postotnik, is: “We can’t tell.”

Douglas offers reassurance on another point, however. Ask any of the film’s legions of fans about a favorite moment in the story and you’ll probably hear about the sensual union of Molly and Sam as she works at her pottery wheel.

Before I could even ask the question, Douglas provided the answer:

“The pottery scene is there. Everybody should be happy.”

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