“If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”
The famous line from the 1984 Ghostbusters movie song has been ringing true for Elaine Hinds, the director of entertainment for the soon-to-open Motiongate theme park, who has been busy calling up ghostbusters this week.
Not that the park is haunted – she has been calling up the five guys who will be cast in the world’s first Ghostbusters musical show, to tell them they’ve been selected.
The all-singing, all-dancing boy band will arrive in Dubai to start rehearsals in August, in preparation for the October opening of Motiongate – part of the wider Dubai Park and Resorts complex in Jebel Ali.
Revelations about the show, which will be located across the street from the park’s Ghostbusters ride, are timely, given that the latest Ghostbusters movie will have its Middle East premiere in Dubai next month. Whereas the busters in the original movie were all men, in the remake, they are women. For now, though, Motiongate’s Ghostbusters band are all-male.
“Initially when we started working on this project, we didn’t know that the new film would involve lady busters,” says Hinds. “So we do have the option in the future to fold the ladies into the show, and I am ecstatic about that.”
Hinds and her team spent the first two months of this year scouring the world for the 190 or so street performers the park requires – from animated mascots and puppeteers to singer-dancer-actors and comedians. Starting in Mumbai and Delhi, then moving on to Sydney, Melbourne, London, Morocco, Beirut, Cairo and Dubai, the team auditioned more than 2,000 hopefuls.
Taking on such a task was nothing new for Hinds, who was previously director of entertainment at Universal Studios in Orlando. But this was her first opportunity to check out the talent in the Mena region.
“Normally, the big theme parks and cruise liners are hitting the same cities – Sydney, Melbourne and London,” she says. “Nobody really goes to the Middle East, so there’s an untapped market here. The performers were so excited to see us. The talent was phenomenal. A lot of my animated staff are coming out of Egypt and Beirut.”
But the search for the perfect ghostbusters was, Hinds reveals, a little more challenging. They needed actors who could not only sing, but who also resembled the original cast of Dan Aykroyd (Raymond), Bill Murray (Peter), Harold Ramis (Egon) and Ernie Hudson (Winston), as they looked 30 years ago. Hinds discovered her chosen stars in Australia, Singapore, the United States and United Kingdom.
“It’s not just about looking like Bill Murray – we needed someone who could pull off his character’s attitude, his distinct sarcasm,” says Hinds. “Each ghostbuster has a very distinct personality. Our show directors will work with them closely on their character development.”
The new recruits are also expected to spend a lot of time this summer glued to their television screens, so they can master the ghostbusters’ mannerisms. “They have to watch the films again and again – oh yeah, I make them crazy with that,” says Hinds with a laugh.
When they arrive in Dubai, the busters still have to go through a rigorous process before they’re put in front of an audience. “The performers have to be approved by the relevant film-studio team depending on the characters they’re playing – DreamWorks, Lionsgate or, in this case, Sony,” explains Hinds. “More importantly, they have to be approved by Dubai Parks and Resorts.”
Although the performers expect to be put through the paces, Hinds is also keen for them to enjoy the experience. “I’m no Simon Cowell,” she says.
In the Ghostbusters show, evil Dr Janosz Poha (whom fans will remember from 1989’s Ghostbusters 2, played by Peter MacNicol), has stolen back from the busters the painting he was possessed by. He sneaks it out of the building that houses the ghostbusters’ ride, across the street to the outdoor stage.
Hinds adds that while all this is happening, the actors will be interacting with the crowds. Then something goes terribly wrong. “The painting possesses all of them and they become a boy band.”
During the 20-minute interactive show that’ll be performed throughout the day, the busters will be belting out peppy songs such as BeyoncÃ©’s Single Ladies. “It’s just crazy-funny, with a lot of dances that the public can join in,” says Hinds.
When asked if the busters will be sliming anyone, Hinds grins before saying: “I don’t know, but I could ask … maybe just once.”
Source: art & life