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Previewed 4 December 1999, opened 13 December 1999, closed 26 February 2000 at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London
David H Bell's Casper the Musical in London for a strictly limited Christmas season.
With Steven Speilberg's movie and a top rating television series to his creit, asper the friendly ghost now makes a pirited entry onto the London stage. He is supported by a talented company in this hi-tech, fast moving, funny, family musical whic is certain to rause your spirits.
The cast for Casper in London features Siobhan Moore in the title role. This stage musical is written, directed and choreographed by David H Bell with music by Henry Marsh and Phil Pickett, designs by Terry Parsons, special effects by Michael F Goldberg, sound by Rick Clarke and lighting by Nick Richings. David H Bell's West End credits include The Hot Mikado at the Queen's Theatre in 1995
"Had anyone told me a show born at Butlins and featuring a cast made up largely of former redcoats had aspirations to reach London's West End, I'd have bet my Christmas dinner that it hadn't a ghost of a chance. And I'd have gone hungry on Saturday - for Casper The Musical is not only occupying the swish Shaftesbury Theatre but is a crackerjack of a holiday treat for younger children. Based on the cartoon character turned TV star who Steven Spielberg put into the movies, it is like a mixture of the Rocky Horror Show (without the rude bits) and Michael Jackson's Thriller video. With tuneful soft rock songs by Henry Marsh and Phil Pickett and lyrics and book by David H. Bell, who also directs, Casper is beautifully costumed and stunningly lit. And there are lots of Christmas presents in the shape of inspired flying and acrobatics and even some jokes a lot better than those you'll find in Christmas crackers." The News of the World
"Six-year-olds brought up on the relentless banging, crashing and shallow sentiments of imported American entertainment may derive some pleasure from this stage exploitation of the cute little ghost and his ugly uncles, already familiar in comic-book, movie and television versions, though my advisers tell me Siobhan Moore's impersonation bears little relation to the intelligent original. Dressed in a white cast like a light bulb, she looked and sounded like Tweety Pie. A troupe of the undead run about the stalls and disco-dance to songs that would have been rejected even by the Village People. Plotless and witless. Bring back Peter Pan." The Sunday Times
"David H. Bell's story is short, simple and very odd. Grumpy old Billy Con is the unhappy owner of a haunted mechanical road-digger. He also has a nephew, Donald, who wears the traditional nerd's uniform of specs and faded plaid trousers. And it is this boy who appals his uncle by bringing in exorcists in eco-warrior red armour. But the ruse works well. After some initial misunderstandings, Donald and his ghostbusters become chums not only with Casper but with his spook uncles... and together they take on the real baddies, who are hellish zombies inexplicably inhabiting the basement of Con's Neo-Gothic mansion... Though no Lion King, the show is often visually arresting, and Henry Marsh and Phil Pickett's music is both energetic and easy on the ear. Against that must be placed some witless dialogue and sententious lyrics. How seriously can you take 'we fight for something more than you, more than me, we fight for tomorrow, whatever that may be', when the singer is a flying bolster?" The Times
"In this musical's defence, I have to admit that the children seemed to like it. Why, I couldn't fathom, but I suspect it is because it plugs into everything that is customary, and disagreeable, about entertainment for children. It has plenty of special effects, sure, but real invention eludes it. It is loud, lavish and synthetic, with a loose story, unmemorable music and lyrics - save one breezy a cappella number towards the end - and a wisecracking script. There may be plenty of spooks, but there's not much soul... The show is well performed by the bright young cast, the staging and choreography are polished, and it has some good one-liners... But the result is just big and bland. A good show for children, in my book, takes them by the hand and leads them into a story, rather than pumping it at them in this fashion. Casper the Musical is more ghastly than ghostly." The Financial Times
Casper the Musical in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre previewed from 4 December 1999, opened on 13 December 1999 and closed on 26 February 2000.