There are few women who can think of the late Patrick Swayze’s major films without swooning just a little.
The actor, who passed away four years ago, is arguably best known as Johnny, in Dirty Dancing, and Sam, in Ghost; both films which now have a cult following.
So imagine the pressure on young actor Stewart Clarke’s shoulders. Just a year out of university, he has already landed the role of Sam in a major national tour of Ghost The Musical.
But how does he handle following in the footsteps of one of Hollywood’s best-loved stars? It probably helps that he has never seen the movie.
He said: “I haven’t seen Ghost, the film, to this day. It passed me by in my youth, but then it was made in 1990 and that was the year I was born.
“I got offered the role and thought, ‘should I watch the film to see what this huge phenomenon is all about?’ I made the conscious decision not to see it, as, I think, did some other cast members. We wanted to create our own version of it. We wouldn’t have been able to recreate it on stage, but hopefully the world of Ghost we have created is a special one and the relationships are truthful.”
He continued: “There are scenes like the pottery scene when you can feel the audience’s anticipation. It is exciting to take on a role like that. I wouldn’t say I felt pressure from the audience, but definite excitement.
“I think Ghost is a story everyone can relate to. Everyone will lose someone they care about in their life. It is about Molly’s experience, having to come to terms with it and the resolution at the end. People can take some sort of hope from it. There is this idea of undying love and that is the key.”
For those unfamiliar with Ghost, the story is that of Sam Wheat and his girlfriend, Molly Jensen.
When he is murdered, Sam’s spirit lingers on earth to find out who committed the crime and to protect Molly from his attacker... all with the help of the supposedly phoney medium, Oda Mae Brown.
Understandably, the experience of playing a ghost has been a little bit of an odd experience.
He said: “When we first started rehearsing, it did take us a while to get used to how the character would fit into the show. You can’t look at him and most of the characters can’t hear him. There is one moment when he is trying to get Molly to hear him and he is shouting in her ear and she can’t react to that. It can be a lonely experience for the first few scenes. You do feel quite alone, so when Oda Mae Brown comes in, you feel much more involved.”
The son of musicals star Paul Clarkson and former 2Point4 Children actress, Julia Hills, being on stage is obviously in the blood for Stewart. And he cites his parents as having been his inspiration.
He said: “Both of my parents are in the business, but it wasn’t something I felt I wanted to do ever since I was young. I stayed away and came to it very late, at the end of my A-levels. But I soon discovered I loved acting and that I loved to sing as well.”
Ghost The Musical will run at Milton Keynes Theatre from September 16–28.