Angela Lansbury to Return to Broadway in Blithe Spirit Revival

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and Kenneth Jones
13 Oct 2008

Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Four-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury, most recently on Broadway opposite Marian Seldes in Terrence McNally's Deuce, will return to Broadway this season in the upcoming revival of Blithe Spirit.

Lansbury will play psychic Madame Arcati in the revival of the classic Noel Coward comedy, according to Variety. Lansbury will join the previously announced Christine Ebersole (Tony winner for Grey Gardens and 42nd Street) as the ghostly Elvira and film star Rupert Everett ("My Best Friend's Wedding," "Another Country" and "An Ideal Husband"), who will be making his Broadway debut. Michael Blakemore, who directed Lansbury in Deuce, will direct at a Shubert Theatre to be announced.

Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler, who are also producing the revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, will produce the comedy about a married man whose dead first wife materializes to make mischief.

The design team has also been announced: Peter J. Davison will design the sets, Martin Pakledinaz the costumes and Brian MacDevitt the lights.

Opening is scheduled for Feb. 26, 2009, according to a previous Times report.



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.

Perhaps best known her for work as TV sleuth Jessica Fletcher on "Murder, She Wrote," 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.

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.

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 originated in London, with Coward starring as Charles.