Tony Award winner Shirley Knight leads the actors conjuring up Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, opening Nov. 12 at Pasadena Playhouse. Knight plays the spirit medium Madame Arcati, with whom all the ghostly comic chaos begins. Blithe Spirit began performances Nov. 3 for a run through Dec. 17.
Knight most recently appeared on New York stages as one third of a Vagina Monologues crew that included Andrea Martin and Alanis Morisette. Other stage credits include her 1964 Broadway debut in Three Sisters, the Tony-winning turn in Kennedy's Children, Tennessee Williams' A Lovely Sunday for Creve Cocur, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie and William Inge's Come Back Little Sheba. Her varied film roles have ranged from "Sweet Bird of Youth" and "The Rain People" to "As Good as it Gets" and "Stuart Saves His Family."
In Blithe Spirit, one of Coward's biggest successes, novelist Charles Condomine, living with his second wife, Ruth, invites a local medium, Madame Arcati, to his house. His intention is to do some research into the spirit world for his new book. But he gets more than he bargained for when Arcati conjures up the ghost of Charles first wife, Elvira. Caught between one live wife and one dead wife -- both jealous of the other -- Charles thinks matters couldn't be worse. That is, until he's saddled with the ghosts of two dead wives.
Co-starring with Knight are Kaitlin Hopkins (Only a Kingdom, My Favorite Year) as Elvira, former Classic Stage Company member Francois Giroday ("The Lot") as Charles and Sara Botsford (The Real Thing, Top Girls, "E.N.G.") as Ruth. Also in the cast are Megan Cavanagh ("Home Improvement," "For Richer or Poorer") as Edith, Charles Lanyer as Dr. Bradman and Carol Mansell as Mrs. Bradman.
Former Arena Stage artistic director Douglas C. Wagner directs. He most recently helmed Expecting Isabel at the Mark Taper Forum. The design team features Roy Christopher (sets), D. Martyn Bookwalter (lighting), Jean-Pierre Dorleac (costumes), Francois Bergeron and Martin Carrillo (sound) and Judi Lewin (hair, wig and make-up). Heidi Swartz and Lea Chazin are the stage managers.
Tickets are $42.50-$15. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue. For reservations, call (800) 233-3123. The Pasadena Playhouse is on the web at http://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
— By Christine Ehren and Robert Simonson