FROM THE MIND OF NOEL COWARD...BLITHE SPIRIT....WHAT A RIDE
When I was first contacted by City Repertory Theatre about playing Elvira in Blithe Spirit, I had only vaguely heard the name of the play in passing.
Was I in for a wonderful ride.
I honestly have never seen anything by Noel Coward except back in Toronto I saw Kim Cattrall...YES, that Kim Cattrall do an outstanding performance in the four character play Private Lives. It was a great comedy about high society as is this.
Coward wrote it for himself in 1941 and is considered one of his best works by many (I have always wondered when they say "many" who the "many" really is?)
It's also been a film with "the " Rex Harrison and has been produced numerous times on the West End Stages in London with the last revival in 2014 and last on Broadway in 2004... even on television with Lauren Bacall and Colette Colbert. (You might have to look them up too unless you remember them or are huge fans of TCM). In fact you can find that very version on YouTube.
Noel Coward himself stars in it.
So, taking on Elvira, British Accent, banter unlike anything I have ever played proved challenging and rewarding. I played the sexy sensuous wife who by the way NO MATTER HOW sexy and sensuous I behave my husband cannot touch me...remember I am a ghost.. compared to the current reserved respected wife portrayed by Julia Truilo who is shocked and of course outraged by all of this.
All the actors were terrific just terrific.
This was an event because this theater had worked with a wonderful hard working director and actor Anne Kraft who had passed (not from Covid) and the theater wanted to honor her which they did....with a heartfelt curtain speech by the director John Sbordone each performance and photos from her work enlarged and highlighted.
I was lucky enough to do the very last production that she directed the two character play "Two For The Seesaw" along with Peter Gutierrez that was streamed this past Superbowl and Valentine Week-end world wide. She was not well at the time but directed us so beautifully that we were able to continue without her.
So this meant alot to me.
I felt her presence I really did.
And she would have loved it.
You've heard of Lunt-Fontaine (if you haven't, do yourself a favor and look them up) well we had our own version . Victoria Page who could give Margart Rutherford (she played the medium in the Rex Harrison movie) a run for her money...in real life she is married to Earl Levine who played my husband Charles Condomine a very arrogant mannered individual and Earl found all the laughs and then some in such a convincing manner that some of my friends thought he actually was English and he made this character his own. He was a pleasure to work opposite.
What is the story all about""
Capsule version: Elvira has drowned about five years previous (yes, boys and girls this is a comedy) and he has remarried a very different respectful wife played in our production by Julia Truilo ..he has a seance for fun because he is thinking about writing a book that will expose all the mystical fake "stuff" that goes on with mediums....so he thinks.
...he brings me back
...dressed in what I drowned in
a beautiful penoir set....I was having a fling at the time...but only poor befuddled Charles can see me...
Now his current wife thinks he is going mad and then realizes finally that I am actually there.
Then all this madcap happens because I decide I want to take him back with me into the "other world " and try in vain to have him have several accidents"
...again...YES this is a comedy!!
Watch the movie and or tv special on YouTube and you will understand.
Now to make it even more creative the director had a Foley Man (a theatrical technican that can make sound effects ) ..Beau Wade was our Foley guy dressed in a tuxedo right onstage with us....my fave moment was each time I literally breezed in their was a whoosing sound
.....I kind of miss that now in real life.
We were sold right out for the entire run and the audiences were very receptive to each and everything that we did.
We did something good for the spirit of Anne Kraft and for the spirit of Noel Coward. I think they both would be very pleased.