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IVRT’s “Blithe Spirit” enters Candlelight Pavilion

April 27, 2010

Noël Coward’s comedy, Blithe Spirit, revolves around novelist and socialite Charles Condomine and the ever-eccentric medium, Madame Arcati. Charles invites the clairvoyant to his home for a séance, hoping to capture material for his next book.

Jenny Wentworth, Beatriz Casagran, George Waters

Everything backfires when the ghost of his difficult first wife, Elvira, subsequently does all she can to disrupt Charles’ marriage to Wife Number Two, Ruth, who is oblivious to the ghost.

The show did quite well in London, running nearly 2,000 performances, and added another 657 on Broadway. Rex Harrison starred in the 1945 film version and a musical adaptation, High Spirits, followed on Broadway in 1964. Blithe Spirit was revived in London in 2004 and returned to Broadway in 2009. It starred Angela Lansbury, Rupert Everett, Christine Ebersole, and Jayne Atkinson.

Inland Valley Repertory Theatre mounts Blithe Spirit at the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont, starting this week. Andrea Stradling plays Elvira. “Personally, I adore the clever writing. Obviously the story is a treat, but the sentences uttered by Charles and Ruth as the evening unfolds are so brilliantly funny. To me they upstage the story itself. It’s the story behind the story…Coward’s commentary on marriage, on the man/woman dynamic.”

And although Elvira and Ruth are opposites, Stradling says, “They were perfectly suitable wives, yet Charles quietly goads them into becoming their worst selves, all in the name of humor.”

Doug DeNeveu, Jill Gerber, Beatriz Casagran, George Waters

Doug DeNeveu portrays Dr. George Bradman. Asked what makes Blithe Spirit so endurable, “Two words,” he exclaims. “Madame Arcati! What a fantastic character! I think also the dealings with after-life and the ‘I can see her, why can’t you’ situational comedy. Those aspects of this play, I feel, are what keep this play transcending time and generations.”

The cast includes Beatriz Casagran as Ruth Condomine; George Waters as Charles Condomine; Jenny Wentworth as Madame Arcati; Jill Gerber as Mrs. Violet Bradman; and Jennifer Rubino as Edith. Terre Gunkel directs.

Wednesdays at 7:30, April 28, May 5 & 12, with a 2:30 matinee on May 12.

Candlelight Pavilion, 455 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont, CA 909-626-1254. Ticket information here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 27, 2010 4:00 pm

    I directed a community theater production of this play shortly after leaving the Army. It was the world’s worst version. My Dr Bradman kept ad libbing asides to his hostedd whom he called Mrs. Concubine. I hope they have better luck in Claremont.

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