Millikin alum to premier in national tour of “Ghost”

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

Millikin is well-known for its Department of Theatre and Dance. Numerous alumni have gone on to perform in regional theatres, national tours and even Broadway. Notable graduates include Bryan Lefeber (‘05), Kyle Fowler (‘07) and Sierra Boggess. Jake Vander Linden (’12) and Jack O’Brien (’13) can now be added to that list. The two have recently been cast in the national tour of “Ghost the Musical” which will open in Schenectady, N.Y. on Sept. 14.

Based on the romantic drama film released in 1990, the plot focuses on a New York couple, Sam and Molly, who are attacked while on their way home. Sam is killed during the struggle then becomes a ghost trapped between the real world and the afterlife. Knowing that Molly is in danger, Sam seeks help from a medium named Oda Mae Brown to help him get in touch with Molly.

This is the show’s first national tour and it will play in St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and many other cities around the country. The tour will run through September 2014.

Van Linden attended the open call for the show at Ripley Grier Studios in New York City and was cast as an ensemble character as well as the understudy for one of the male leads (Carl).

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I have always wanted to be a part of a touring cast and touring with this incredible musical is an honor.”

However, O’Brien didn’t attend the same open call as Van Linden. He went to a general audition in Memphis, Tenn. called UPTAS. The casting director was looking for talent for future projects, but nothing specifically. This past June, he was called to audition for “Ghost.” He landed the role as an ensemble character as well as the understudy for both of the male leads (Sam and Carl).

“I was extremely excited when I found out I was cast in the production,” O’Brien said. “It’s nice to know that I am making my living solely by performing. Also, I was excited to work with the creative team. Because it’s the first national tour, we are getting to work with the original Broadway director, choreographer, music supervisor and illusionist. It’s been great being able to work with these amazing professionals.”

O’Brien didn’t initially know that Van Linden was also auditioning for “Ghost.” It wasn’t until he arrived to New York later on that he found out that Van Linden would be at the callbacks with him. Afterwards, they both spent time working on some of the material and choreography that they were given together.

“It was so nice to have an audition buddy to hang out with help relieve the stress of callbacks,” Van Linden said. “I’m so excited that I can share this experience with such a great friend.”

The tour’s website,, is currently being developed. All information and tour dates will be posted.

“The cool thing about a tour is that the show is able to be seen by so many different people from around the United States,” O’Brien said. “I am very interested to see how different audiences will react to the show. I also have really loved working on the magic. I can’t wait to perform some of the tricks with a live audience.”