ONCE again, Leigh Operatic has been chosen to launch a recent London show in the regions. This is a company that has been on peak form for years. Lods doesn’t know the meaning of the word disappoint, and once again they deliver a gold standard production. So, what about the show itself?

The 1990 film Ghost has become part of most people’s cultural DNA. Clearly the narrative lends itself to musical development. The story of the murdered banker who has to save his beloved from falling victim to the same bad guys, has it all – drama, romance and comedy.

The London production of Ghost, however, was somewhat disappointing.

The emphasis on special effects rather overwhelmed the performances and music.

Lods does not fall into this trap. Peter Brown’s production uses video and graphics to good effect to evoke the streets of Manhattan and those trains on the New York subway which play such a crucial role in the story.

The focus, though, is on the characters and story, and here, as usual, Lods is in its elements. There is a lovely central performance, exuding both warmth and sadness, from Jenny Peoples as Molly, the girl who get left behind.

She is well matched by the multi-skilled Stuart Woolner (Sam, the banker), more normally seen in the orchestra pit, who holds the stage confidently and dynamically. Lewis Sheldrake is an oily and convincing villain.

As with the film, though, the showstopping moments mostly belong to the character of Oda Mae Brown, the supposedly phoney medium who discovers to her horror that she really can communicate with the dead.

Whoopi Goldberg is a hard act to follow, but Helen Sharpe manages it effortlessly, in a hilarious, musically rambunctious performance that adds another gold bar to her portfolio of memorable roles for Lods.

The production’s other highpoint lies in its production numbers. Gemma Cohen’s choreography does a great job in evoking the restless swirl of New York crowds and the brittle sense of rat-race competiveness that runs through Wall Street, and provokes the character’s fate.

Even if you have seen the film 50 times and even if it involves mugging yourself (if you are a banker) to get a ticket, it is worth seeing this Lods production. It adds a whole new dimension to the beloved tale.

Ghost is at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff, until Saturday night.

Performances nightly at 7.30pm, matinee Sat 2.30pm.

Call 01702 351135 for tickets.