|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?
Lansbury, who was born in London in 1925, has spanned films, Broadway and television in a career of over half a century. She made her Broadway debut in 1957 when she starred as Bert Lahr’s wife in the French farce Hotel Paradiso. Subsequent Broadway appearances include A Taste of Honey, Anyone Can Whistle, Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, Deuce, Blithe Spirit, A Little Night Music and The Best Man. From 1984-1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on "Murder, She Wrote," for which she won four Golden Globe Awards. In 2013 she received an honorary Oscar in recognition of her 70 years of contribution to the film industry, and she was appointed as a Dame in the 2014 New Year's Honors List issued by the Queen.
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.