The Sunshine Ghost, a goofy Scottish-American fusion musical, is bizarre and wonderful in all the right ways. This show, which recently opened at The Studio in Edinburgh, is eccentric at best, convoluted at worst, but at its heart it is fun and exudes creative spirit. It tells the story of American billionaire, Glen Duval, who transports an ancient Scottish castle to Florida at the apparent whim of Astrobeth, famed television astrologer and his new fiancé. Little does his family know, the castle comes with a ghostly guest and a complicated curse they have yet to uncover.
After the interval, the plot diverges into a strange tangle that is at times a bit difficult to comprehend. About halfway through the show, we learn that it is actually taking place in the 1950s. There is also a quintessential Christmas scene, some somewhat obscure historical references, and even a Hamilton reference thrown into the mix. This hodgepodge of ideas could perhaps have benefitted from some edits, but at the same time, its odd creativity is what makes the show so lovable and entertaining.
At the heart of the production is Jaqueline, Duval’s plucky, intelligent daughter working as an archaeologist at the site of the castle her father uproots. Though her strange relationship with its resident haunt was a bit baffling, her sweet spirit and consistent nerve, not to mention her professional success as a woman in the 1950s, made her the refreshing kind of female romantic lead an audience loves to root for. Jackie was played to perfection by Neshla Caplan whose beautiful voice and likeability brought an uplifting atmosphere to the show.
Another highlight of the show was the expertly executed movement choreographed by Rita Henderson. The musical included many visually interesting scenes that worked in tandem with the pleasing simplicity of the set. Designed by Becky Minto, the stage was piled with wooden crates and lined with string lights, bringing a millennial touch to the historical piece. The crates were easily and manoeuvred into various settings, making the theatricality at the heart of musical theatre effective even in a small space.
The other standouts of the show are Richard Ferguson and Andy Cannon, who both wrote and starred in the show: Cannon as the narrator, and Ferguson as a live pianist featured in several hilarious and unexpected cameos. These two multi-talented men are clearly integral to the show’s development both onstage and off.
According to their article on All Edinburgh Theatre, The Sunshine Ghost is just at the beginning of its onstage journey. Cannon and Ferguson intend for the work to continue to be developed with tour dates yet to be confirmed in 2019. I hope that as it goes on this journey it doesn’t lose its goofy charm, and embraces its more-is-more mentality. I thoroughly enjoyed The Sunshine Ghost, and look forward to following its journey.
Guest Reviewer: Julia Weingaertner