If you have never seen a play by the great Noel Coward, do not miss Theatre Tillsonburg’s production of his classic, Blithe Spirit, which is still a smash hit when performed over seven decades later.
Noel had traveled the world to drum up support for Britain’s war effort, but a chronic need for money in the spring of 1941 saw him slipping away to Wales, as Londoners endured the Blitz, to write a new comedy about a man haunted by the ghost of his first wife.
“Title (is) Blithe Spirit,” he wrote in his diary. “Very gay, superficial comedy about a ghost. Feel it may be good.”
Six days later, the play was finished. Six weeks later it opened in London, England, and has been going ever since.
Blithe Spirit is set at the house of writer Charles Condomine (played by Adam Glass), and his wife, Ruth (Carolyn James). One evening, Charles invites local eccentric medium Madame Arcati (Janice Lundy) to hold a seance at his house. He asks along his friends, Dr. and Mrs. Bradman (John Allen and Marie Manning) intending to gather character inspiration from Madame Arcati for his latest book.
Despite initially thinking the seance has been a failure, it soon becomes clear that Madame Arcati has unwittingly brought back Charles’ first wife, Elvira (Crystal Richer) to haunt him. Once in his house, Elvira is unable to leave and, as she cannot be seen or heard by Ruth, she causes all kinds of mischievous trouble between the married couple and the maid Edith (Connie Tolg).
When Elvira unwittingly causes Ruth’s death in her attempts to bring Charles over to be with her, Charles becomes haunted by both of his now-deceased wives. Frustrated by their odd situation, the threesome call on Madame Arcati once more to send Elvira and Ruth back to the other side.
Hugely funny, dependent on the characters, Blithe Spirit combines farce, emotion, and wit to great effect.
Our original director and longtime member Ross Hepburn had to step away from the show when his wife Claudia became ill and sadly passed away. Joan Weston stepped up to replace Ross and has worked hard to bring the show to life with Paul Bechard, ‘the 50/50 guy,’ as producer.
One of the exciting elements of this show is the time period of the late 1930s, for by this time period the style in decorative arts and architecture had morphed into a major lifestyle called Art Deco. Abstract shapes, eye popping colours, new technologies, not just in your home but also in fashion, took decorative ideas from the classics - Egypt, Cubism, dance, Art Nouveau and many other styles. What it all means is that this set is going to be spectacular. It has been so much fun to design something this different and to work with the enthusiasm and talent of Maureen Bourne, Linda Owen and Lisa Alexander in set décor. They have also assisted the props department headed by Janie Forsythe in gathering the appropriate wares for the set. Janie will have Kathy Addison and Joe McGlynn assisting with all the changes throughout the show.
Peter Beechey, Paul Bechard, Ward Smith and Greg Lee did the set construction for the show and Bob Hulme the lighting design, assisted by Sean Goble, a crew of six setting lights and Harry Vandenbiggelaar running lighting. Richard Tilleman has designed and will run sound and Sheila Tripp and Janet Hevenor have been busy with the styles of yester-year in costumes, while Justice Evanitski will complement their work with make-up and hair.
Joan will also be our Stage Manager and must hold everyone, including ghosts and all their supernatural hijinks, in check. Here is hoping that George, the Playhouse’s resident’s apparition, doesn’t join the fun!
Get your Blithe Spirit tickets now by contacting Box Office firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-688-3026. Show dates are May 3-6 and 10-13, with doors open at 7:30 p.m. for an 8 p.m. start except for the Sunday Matinée when doors open at 1:30 for a 2 p.m. start. All tickets are $20.
All performances are at Theatre Tillsonburg’s very own Otter Valley Playhouse at 144789 Potters Rd.
Producing live theatre is getting more and more difficult as technologies and social changes seem to keep more and more people at home. It is not only difficult getting volunteers on and off stage but finding the finances to give you quality shows. So, I would like to take a moment to very sincerely thank our sponsors and advertisers in our program. In the show there are a fair amount of cocktails consumed, so it is only appropriate that one of two Blithe Spirit poster sponsors is Making Good Spirits (at 4-103 Bidwell St.) and for after cocktail hour all of Tillsonburg’s Tim Hortons!