By Andrew Gans
and Kenneth Jones
26 Feb 2009
|Photo by Aubrey Reuben|
The cast boasts four-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury (Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd) as psychic Madame Arcati; two-time Tony winner Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens and 42nd Street) as the ghostly Elvira; Rupert Everett ("My Best Friend's Wedding"), who is making his Broadway debut as Charles Condomine; theatre veteran Simon Jones as Mr. Bradman; two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Atkinson as Ruth Condomine; Tony nominee Deborah Rush as Mrs. Bradman; and Susan Louise O'Connor as Edith.
Tony Award winner Michael Blakemore, who directed Lansbury in Deuce, directs. Opening night is scheduled for March 15.
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.
The most recent revival of Coward's 1941 comedy played the Neil Simon Theatre in 1987. Directed by Brian Murray, the cast featured Richard Chamberlain, Blythe Danner, Judith Ivey, Geraldine Page, Nicola Cavendish, Patricia Conolly and William LeMassena.
The original Broadway production starred Clifton Webb as Charles, Peggy Wood as wife Ruth and Leonora Corbett as Elvira. Mildred Natwick was eccentric medium Madame Arcati. The play was first presented in Manchester, England, and opened in London's West End in 1941 under the direction of Coward.
Perhaps best known her for work as TV sleuth Jessica Fletcher on "Murder, She Wrote," Angela Lansbury is one of the most celebrated stars of the Broadway stage. She received Tony Awards for her performances in Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, Dear World and Mame, and she also appeared on The Great White Way in Deuce, Hotel Paradiso, A Taste of Honey, Anyone Can Whistle, The King and I and A Little Family Business. Her numerous film credits include "Gaslight," "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "The Manchurian Candidate," all of which brought the actress Academy Award nominations.
For her work in the dual roles of Edith Bouvier Beale and "Little" Edie Beale in the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Grey Gardens, Christine Ebersole was honored with the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Obie, a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Drama League's 2006 Distinguished Performance of the Year Award. She also received a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her work as Dorothy Brock in the hit revival of 42nd Street and a 2003 Tony nomination for her performance in Lincoln Center's production of Dinner at Eight. Ebersole's other Broadway credits include The Best Man, Getting Away with Murder, Harrigan 'n Hart, Camelot, Oklahoma!, On the Twentieth Century, I Love My Wife, Angel Street and the City Center Encores! productions of A Connecticut Yankee, Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, Lady in the Dark and Allegro. Ebersole was also seen Off-Broadway in Talking Heads and in the recent City Center Encores! production of Applause.
Rupert Everett, the film actor known for his work in "My Best Friend's Wedding," "Another Country" and "An Ideal Husband," is making his Broadway debut in Blithe Spirit.
Simon Jones has been seen on Broadway in The Real Thing, Benefactors, Getting Married, Private Lives, The Real Inspector Hound and The Fifteen Minute Hamlet, The School for Scandal, The Herbal Bed, Ring Round the Moon and Waiting in the Wings. He recently starred in the Guthrie's production of Shadowlands.
Jayne Atkinson was Tony-nominated for Enchanted April and The Rainmaker. Her additional stage credits include 33 Variations, Ivanov, All My Sons, The Vagina Monologues, Henry VIII and How I Learned to Drive. She is well known for appearances on television's "24."
Deborah Rush was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress for her work in Noises Off Her other Broadway credits include Absurd Person Singular, Hay Fever, The Sisters Rosensweig and Dance With Me. Rush's screen credits include "Strangers with Candy," "Law and Order," "Spin City," "Julie and Julia," "You've Got Mail" and "Purple Rose of Cairo."
Susan Louise O'Connor, who is making her Broadway debut, has been seen Off-Broadway in What To Do When You Hate All Your Friends, Apostasy, Marion Bridge, Walk Two Moons, Never Swim Alone, See Bob Run and St. Scarlet. Her regional credits include A Sleeping Country (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), What the Butler Saw (Huntington Theatre), Wonder of the World (Barrington Stage) and Indoor/Outdoor (Portland Stage). She has appeared on film in "Flying Scissors," "Acts of Worship," "The Day My Towers Fell," "The Question," "The Moment" and "Parallel Passage."
Michael Blakemore's Broadway directing credits include Democracy, Deuce, Is He Dead?, Copenhagen (Tony Award), Kiss Me, Kate (Tony Award), The Life, City of Angels, Noises Off and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
Blithe Spirit is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Steve Traxler, Bat Barry Productions, Jennifer Costello/Broadway Across America, Ken Davenport, Scott Delman, Jamie deRoy/Alan D. Marks, Wendy Federman, Michael Filerman, Jeffrey Finn/Arlene Scanlan, Ronald Frankel, Barbara and Buddy Freitag, JK Productions, Kathleen Johnson, Patty Ann McKinnon, and Terry Schnuck.
The Shubert Theatre is located in Manhattan at 225 West 44th Street. Tickets are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com.