It’s been 70 years since the ghost of Elvira Condomine first wandered the Lakewood Theatre Company stage. In fact, it is because one of Sir Noel Coward‘s most popular plays, Blithe Spirit, was the first play produced on the Lakewood stage that it has returned to mark the opening of Lakewood Theatre Company’s 70th season! No small accomplishment for this beloved community theatre.
As the show opens, Charles Condomine (Murren Kennedy), a successful novelist, has summoned Madam Arcati (Caren Graham) to his country home to perform an after dinner seance. Charles is working on a novel about ghosts and believes it will be helpful to his research, and amusing for his wife Ruth (Elizabeth Jackson), Dr. Bradman (David Heath), and his wife Violet (Stephanie Crowley) following their small dinner party. Unfortunately for all concerned, including the young maid Edith (Samantha Blaine), Madam Arcati summons the spirit of Elvira (Jayna Sweet), Charles’s deceased first wife, when she plays the song “Always”.
Madam Arcati pedals home on her bicycle unaware of the trouble that awaits the living Condomines when a deceased Condomine shows up to make mischief. This is the delightful sort of drawing room comedy at which Coward excelled. Not only is Elvira smart and quick of tongue, but also she takes a particular interest in disrupting Charles’s marriage. No one but Charles can see Elvira, and Ruth believes her husband has lost his mind–until the unseen Elvira presents her with a vase of flowers.
With its smartly dressed characters, witty dialog, and an unending supply of martinis, it is no wonder Blithe Spirit, like Present Laughter and other Noel Coward standards, have remained in the regular theatre repertoire. Since its inaugural 1952 production at Lakewood, Blithe Spirit has graced the Lakewood stage in 1960, 1977, and 2002.
David Sikking directs this excellent production, with set design by Alan Schwanke; lighting design, Larry Larsen; stage manager, Clementine Dorsey; sound design, Marcus Storey; producer, Steve Knox; costume design, Margret Louise Chapman; makeup design, Diane Trapp; wig design, Jane Holmes; dialect coach, Kylie Jenifer Rose; and production manager, Kendra Comerford.
Blithe Spirit plays on the Lakewood main stage through October 16. Tickets are available here.