Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The Caldwell Theatre Company celebrates the talents of Sir Noel Coward with their production of Blithe Spirit. Blithe Spirit was first presented at the Manchester Opera House in England on June 16, 1941 before going on to the Piccadilly Theatre in London. It was brought to the United States in November of that same year and produced at the Morosco Theatre in New York by John C. Wilson. Blithe Spirit was also released as a film starring Rex Harrison in 1969.
Noel Coward wrote over 50 plays, often appearing in them as well. In 1941 three of his plays Blithe Spirit, This Happy Breed, and Present Laughter were produced in repertory in London's West End. He starred in all three. As an author he tackled subjects not often addressed in polite society in the early 1900s such as drug abuse in 1924's The Vortex, free love in 1927's Sirocco, and the England's class system in 1931's Cavalcade. The prolific Sir Coward also wrote over 500 popular songs, such as "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris". As an author, he also penned the successful novel Pomp and Circumstance.
Noel Coward's 19-year-long love affair with the younger brother of the Duke of Windsor, Prince George Duke of Kent, was far from secret. But his controversial private life did not deter him from being one of the most sought after men of his time. His work is punctuated with intelligent patter and dry wit. And he remains a formidable talent to be reckoned with.
Blithe Spirit Takes its name from the first line of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley entitled "Ode To A Skylark": "Hail to thee, blithe spirit!/Bird thou never wert." In the play Novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth host a dinner party whose quests include a local clairvoyant, Madame Arcati. Charles' intentions are to use her visit as character research for a novel he is writing. However, mischief ensues when the ghost of Charles' first wife, Elvira, is accidentally brought back from beyond. It seems that Elvira longs to bring Charles back with her, and in her attempts to do so, she accidentally kills his second wife, Ruth. Her spirit is perhaps blithe in its intent, but not in its actions.
The set by Tim Bennet is well done, particularly in the closing scene's special effects. Director Michael Hall has filled his stage with perennial Caldwell favorites. Jacqueline Knapp's performance as Elvira is a mixed bag, with a vague accent and languorous ghostly meandering about stage. Dennis Creaghan is dignified as the beleaguered Charles. Margery Lowe is entertaining as the maid Edith in a performance that is a bit more slap stick than Noel Coward might have expected. Angie Radosh is delightful as the ditsy Mrs. Bradman, and Elizabeth Dimon gives a wondrously standout performance as Madame Arcati in this fine send off of a Noel Coward classic.
Production dates of Blithe Spirit at the Caldwell Theatre Company are December 30, 2005 - February 12, 2006. For tickets to this and other shows, you may contact the Caldwell at 561-241-7432 or on line at: www.caldwelltheatre.com.
The Caldwell Theatre Company is a professional theatre company hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. They are located at 7873 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33487-1640 in the Levitz Plaza. Look for the theatres' proposed relocation to their new space in the fall of 2006.
* Denotes a member of Actor's Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.