Nöel Coward’s Blithe Spirit Rolls Death in Its Grave October 5 through 29
Director Carly Bodnar leads an all-star cast of Hedgerow favorites in Nöel Coward’s stylish supernatural comedy, Blithe Spirit, playing October 5 through 29. The cast includes Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, board member Michael Fuchs, veteran Susan Wefel, and fan favorite Stacy Skinner. The show also returns the three cast members of the Barrymore Recommended production of On the Verge: Jennifer Summerfield, Maryruth Stine, and playing the coveted role of Madame Arcati will be this year’s recipient of the Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award, Penelope Reed.
“Wonderful to return and play on our beloved home theatre stage with a fabulous cast-- a reunion of the the ladies from On the Verge and the delight to play next to my son Jared. The last time we were together onstage was as Tom and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie!” said Ms. Reed.
As with many of Coward’s plays, Blithe Spirit examines the seeming perfection of monogamy, marriage, and the English upper classes. Madame Arcati herself endures as one of the most favored characters in Coward’s canon. Her role is an iconic one, and her portrayal is often the most loved and remembered.
“Madame Arcati has such joyous challenges for an actress. Range and depth make it one of those exciting roles to tackle. And then there's the fact it's a great verbal and physical comedy. One gets to play and embrace an an eccentric with a huge heart. She’s happily daffy, and solidly human, while reaching out to the unknown. Fun!” said Ms. Reed.
Cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine, Jared Reed, is married, but haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, the clever and insistent Elvira, who is called up by the visiting “happy medium,” Madame Arcati. Coward’s wit is on full display as his hauntingly funny ghost story drives audiences mad.
“Blithe Spirit takes our logical lead characters and puts them in situations that are appalling and absurd to them. It is a piece full of surprises and turns at every corner. A good farce makes you think one thing and gives you another. A good farce also has audiences laughing at characters who are put in these ridiculous situations, and the fun is in how they deal with those situations. Coward's Blithe Spirit encompasses all these things,” said Director Bodnar.
In the spring of 1941, as Londoners endured the Blitz, playwright Noel Coward slipped away to Wales to draft a new script centered on death and the great beyond. “Title [is] Blithe Spirit,” he wrote in his diary. “Very gay, superficial comedy about a ghost. Feel it may be good.” Six days later, the play was finished. Now seventy-six years old, Blithe Spirit, an improbable farce in three acts, is still delighting audiences around the world.
“What stands out to me is Coward's handling of timeless topics: marriage, death and life after death. Coward wrote this play during the Second World War creating a piece that allowed his audiences to experience death in a light and comedic fashion. Like many of his other works, Coward centers this piece around marriage and marital discourse. While Blithe Spirit was written in 1941, it had a revival not too long ago on Broadway, and is being done at Hedgerow because the topics are still relevant, giving it a modern day feel that relates to modern day audiences,” said Bodnar.
Is it our enjoyment of a well-plotted farce, or our obsession with life after death, that charges this intelligent and enduring Gothic play? Coward’s timeless and distinct voice, combined with superb direction and a killer cast, give us insight into human interactions and relationships that make up all the fun in this one-of-a-kind production.
For more information call the box office, 610-565-4211, visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org, or email email@example.com. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media). Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those age 30 and under are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18, please contact Art Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. Shows are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.