Nöel Coward’s stylish comedy, Blithe Spirit, is Barrymore Recommended. This otherworldly farce is perfect for the fall season and is delighting audiences in this life and the next. Playing now through October 29, this outrageous farce, written seventy-six years ago, brings an eclectic cast, suburb direction, and a delightful story.
Named in honor of the famed Philadelphia-based first family of theatre, the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre have served as Philadelphia’s professional theatre awards program since 1994. The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre are a nationally recognized symbol of excellence for professional theatre in the Greater Philadelphia region, honoring local artists and theatre companies while increasing public awareness of the richness and diversity of our city’s thriving theatre community.
“Like most of Coward’s work, Blithe Spirit contains his signature flippancy. If the departed possessed voices, they too would laugh, and yet they might also pause to appreciate how both time and the Hedgerow have infused an endearing quality into this seven-decades-old masterwork,” Jim Rutter, Philly.com.
In the spring of 1941, as Londoners endured the Blitz of World War II, playwright Noel Coward slipped away to Wales to draft a new script centered on death and the great beyond. “Title [is] Blithe Spirit,” he wrote in his diary. “Very gay, superficial comedy about a ghost. Feel it may be good.” Then, six days later, the play was finished. Now seventy-six years old, Blithe Spirit is still delighting audiences around the world.
“Universal button-perfect delivery of delicious Noël Coward lines takes Carly L. Bodnar’s production of Blithe Spirit at Hedgerow Theatre miles into gratifying comic territory, but rollicking payoffs come from the cast’s physical antics and Goldilocks-right facial reactions.” Neal Zoren, DCMetroTheatreArts.com
Dubbed “An Improbable Play in Three Acts,” Blithe Spirit features novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife, the stiff and rigid Ruth, as they prepare to host a seance conducted by clairvoyant Madame Arcati. For him, it’s a lark, research for his novel The Unseen; however, the scheme backfires, and Charles’ first wife, the temperamental Elvira, is summoned. Now, Charles finds himself torn between two loves: a passionate dead wife and an unfeeling living one.
“The engaging ensemble takes this entertaining story with its fun supernatural overtones and serves up Coward’s play like a delicious seasonal pumpkin latte for the audience to savor. “ Margie Royal, DelcoCultureVultures.com
Coward had been plotting a comedy about ghosts for some time, but could never quite work it out in his mind. The title of the play is taken from Percy Shelley‘s poem “To a Skylark” (“Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! / Bird thou never wert”).
The play itself pulls from Gothic literature, British farce, and the comedy of manners. No one quite captures the wit and whimsy of the upperclass trapped in a ridiculous situation quite like Coward.
Directed by Carly L. Bodnar, the cast of Blithe Spirit includes Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, board member Michael Fuchs, veteran Susan Wefel, and fan favorite Stacy Skinner. The show also returns the three cast members of the Barrymore Recommended production of On the Verge: Jennifer Summerfield, Maryruth Stine, and playing the coveted role of Madame Arcati will be this year’s recipient of the Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award, Penelope Reed.
For more information call the box office, 610-565-4211, visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media). Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those age 30 and under are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18, please contact Art Hunter at email@example.com. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. Shows are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.