By Mark Shenton
18 Mar 2014
|Photo by Robert J. Saferstein|
She last played Gertrude to Albert Finney's Hamlet for the National Theatre in 1975, first at the Old Vic (where the company was then based), then at the South Bank's Lyttelton Theatre when the company relocated there. Other West End appearances include the British premiere of Gypsy in 1973 and Edward Albee's All Over for the RSC in 1972.
Lansbury now reprises the role of Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit that she previously played in a Tony-winning performance on Broadway in 2009. Michael Blakemore again directs, and Simon Jones reprises his performance as Dr. Bradman, newly joined by Charles Edwards, Janie Dee and Jemima Rooper. Also in the cast are Serena Evans and Patsy Ferran, with Sandra Dickinson, Sarah Lawn, Hugh Osborne and Melissa Woodbridge as understudies.
In order to observe a spiritualist first-hand for a planned novel, writer Charles Condomine (Edwards) and wife Ruth (Dee) invite friends the Bradmans (Jones and Evans) to dinner and a séance with local clairvoyant Madame Arcati (Lansbury), whom they are certain is a fake. That all changes when the ghost of his first wife, Elvira (Rooper) is summoned - and overstays her welcome in the following days, causing a rift between Charles and his at first disbelieving and then jealous second wife. The feuding wives, ghost and flesh, hatch plot and counter plot to sabotage each other's and Charles' existence but will they succeed?
The production is designed by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Mark Jonathan and sound by Ben and Max Ringham. Lansbury's costumes are by Martin Pakledinaz.
Blithe Spirit is produced in the West End by Lee Dean, Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, John Frost, Steve Traxler, Will Trice and Charles Diamond, in association with Ken Davenport and Kathleen K Johnson.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 482 5130 or visit blithespiritlondon.com for more details.