Blithe Spirit

By Noël Coward
Directed By Christopher Liam Moore

November 25, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Morrison Theatre

With ghosts who are decidedly not Dickensian, this comedic masterpiece will haunt our holiday season.  Vana O’Brien takes on a role she was born to play as Madame Arcati, the eccentric clairvoyant who inadvertently summons the titular spirit from the beyond. This mischievous supernatural farce invokes hilarity perfect for escaping the yuletide madness. Suitable for ages 8 and up.

  • Designs by Resident Artists Kristeen Willis Crosser & Rodolfo Ortega
  • Otherworldly Classic

 RUNNING TIME: Approximately 2 Hours and 45 Minutes with one intermission.

Cast

Val Landrum +^

Edith

Michael Mendelson +*^

Charles

Allen Nause +^

Dr. Bradman

JoAnn Johnson +^

Mrs. Bradman

Vana O'Brien +^

Madame Arcati

Sara Hennessy +

Elvira

Jill Van Velzer +

Ruth

+ Member of Actors Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.

* Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

^ Artists Rep Resident Artist

Director

Christopher Liam Moore *

Production

Scenic Designer: Alan Schwanke

Costume Designer: Nancy Hills

Lighting Designer: Kristeen Willis Crosser #

Composer/Sound Designer: Rodolfo Ortega ^

Voice & Text Director: Mary McDonald-Lewis ^

Props Master: Natalie Rae Heikkinen

Production Stage Manager: Carol Ann Wohlmut +^

Production Assistant: Jessica Evans Irvine

+ Member of Actors Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.

* Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

# The scenic, costume, lighting, projection & sound designers are represented by United Scenic Artists

^ Artists Rep Resident Artist

Press

"It's not often we get to see Coward plays anymore, but this comedy makes for a fun evening in the theater. There may be no Santa Claus or Scrooge in this play, but Artists Rep's "Blithe Spirit" should fit nicely into the holiday plans of many Portlanders — at least those who desire spirited urbane comedy spiced with warm-hearted laughter for their cold winter nights." - Richard Wattenberg, The Oregonian. Read the rest of the review here

“What an amazing production. I loved the special effects!” - Audience Member

"...it’s a comedy after all, and if a bunch of people in one house making fools of themselves and getting in petty arguments doesn’t conjure the holiday spirit, what will?" says Nathan Tucker of Portland Monthly Magazine. Read the full review here.       

“It’s so witty and clever. Great cast!” - Audience Member 

“…a magical finale…leaving the audience only with their own roaring laughter and applause.”  - Jen Scholten, Ambit Magazine

“It’s really funny and wonderful.” - Audience Member

“The time just flew! Very entertaining!” - Audience Member

"Stylistically, it is Coward's masterpiece: his most complete success in imposing his own view of things on the brute facts of existence." - The Times, 1976

"With Hay Fever and Private Lives, Blithe Spirit strikes me as being one of Coward 's three indisputable comic masterpieces. [It is] the outrageous frivolity with which Coward treats mortality that makes the piece so bracing." - The Daily Telegraph, 2004

PRODUCTION HISTORY

Blithe Spirit was first produced on the West End in June 1941, featuring performances by Cecil Parker, Fay Compton, Kay Hammond, Margaret Rutherford, Martin Lewis, Moya Nugent and Ruth Reeves. The show was a sensation, breaking all previous records for a non-musical on the West End stage with 1,997 performances. It went on to run for four consecutive years, transferring to Broadway in November 1941. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the show saw several notable revivals, including one at The Globe starring Patrick Cargill, Phyllis Calver, Amanda Reiss and Beryle Reid, one at the National Theatre directed by Harold Pinter, and one on Broadway for which Geraldine Page received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Madame Arcati. In 2002, Blithe Spirit was given a short production at the Bay Street Theatre in New York that featured Twiggy as Elvira. Angela Lansbury starred in a Broadway revival in 2009 directed by Michael Blakemore. Lansbury won her fifth Tony Award for her performance as Madame Arcati. Amazingly, at age 88, Lansbury reprised her role in March 2014 on the West End in a production of Blithe Spirit, again directed by Blakemore, alongside Charles Edwards (recently seen on screen in Downton Abbey and Philomena) as Charles Condomine.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Noël Coward, born in 1899, was an English playwright, actor and composer best known for his highly polished comedies of manners. At 11, he made his professional stage debut and continued to act regularly throughout his adolescent and teenaged years. By the age of 24, he had written three plays between his various acting engagements. The Vortex, which he wrote in an effort to give himself “a whacking good part” to play, was an immediate hit. From there, he took London theatre by storm, writing and starring in his own stylish, durable comedies of manners throughout the 1920s. Come the end of the 1930s, Coward had perfected his style and public image as a sophisticated romantic lead – or, as biographer Sheridan Moreley punned, “the playboy of the West End world.”  Along with Blithe Spirit, Coward is famous for such works as Hay Fever, Private Lives and Present Laughter. He also composed hundreds of songs, in addition to musical theatre works, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance, and a three-volume autobiography. He was knighted in 1969 and died in Jamaica in 1973, his last words being, “I’ll see you in the morning.”  

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Christopher Liam Mooreis very proud to return to Artists Rep after making his debut here with debut with Red Herring in the 2012/13 season. For the past five years, he has been a director and actor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His directing efforts there include: The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa, August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Dead Man's Cell Phone, A Streetcar Named Desire and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Other theatre credits include productions at Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, Yale Rep, Mark Taper Forum, Guthrie Theatre, Arena Stage, Long Wharf Theatre and the American Repertory Theatre. Film and television credits include Judging Amy, Friends, Star Trek: Voyager, Third Rock from the Sun, and being a series regular on Ten Items or Less. He is a proud founding member of the L.A.-based Cornerstone Theater Company where he spent 20 years as an actor and director.

Resources

STUDY GUIDE:

If you want to know exactly what you are in for and really dig into the play, click here for a STUDY GUIDE but beware of major SPOILERS!

Video

Photos