Press Release | Noël Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit starts previews

May 17, 2013… A hilarious battle of wits plays out in one of Noël Coward’s most celebrated comedies, Blithe Spirit. Directed by long-time Festival favourite Brian Bedford, the gorgeously designed production started previews on Thursday, May 16, at the Avon Theatre.
 
Mr. Bedford, whose recent double triumph as director and star of The Importance of Being Earnest thrilled audiences first in Stratford and then on Broadway, returns for his 28th Festival season. Widely regarded as an authority on Coward’s work, he has not only directed and acted in Blithe Spirit several times, he also knew the English playwright personally.
 
“I absolutely worshipped him,” says Mr. Bedford. “I thought he was just a magical guy. And of course he was incredibly good company; he spoke with the same kind of wit and original energy that is in his plays.”
 
Set in an exquisite 1940s Georgian style English house, Blithe Spirit centres on Charles, an author who cheekily engages a medium, Madame Arcati, to conduct a séance as research for his latest novel. Things go decidedly not as planned when she inadvertently raises the ghost of his late wife, Elvira, much to the chagrin of his current wife, Ruth. As the only one who can see or hear Elvira, Charles must figure out how to entertain his ethereal house guest without stepping outside of matrimonial bounds. Trying to keep everyone happy, as it turns out, is a hilarious challenge.
 
“Coward’s laser-sharp wit and brilliant dialogue make this a delicious play – one that will serve as a source of joy and amusement within this Festival season,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “I was delighted when my mentor and friend, Brian Bedford, agreed to direct this play and return to the Festival. He is a true master of bringing Coward to life. With an extraordinary cast, sumptuous costumes and outstanding production design, this is sure to be a wildly entertaining, feel-good evening out at the theatre.”
 
The cast features Ben Carlson as Charles Condomine, Michelle Giroux as Elvira Condomine, Seana McKenna as Madame Arcati, Sara Topham as Ruth Condomine, James Blendick as Dr. Bradman, Susie Burnett as Edith and Wendy Thatcher as Mrs. Bradman.
 
“I’m really looking forward to [this production] because of the company,” says Mr. Bedford. “I think it will be the best cast of the play that I’ve ever had.”
 
The artistic team features Set Designer Simon Higlett, Costume Designer Katherine Lubienski, Lighting Designer Paul Miller, Sound Designer Jim Neil and Stunt Coordinator John Stead.
 
Blithe Spirit Forum Highlights
 
The Forum, the new festival within the Festival, is a series of activities and events designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience. Through debates, talks, concerts, comedy nights, hands-on workshops and more, The Forum will offer theatregoers more ways to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions.
 
Themes related to Blithe Spirit will be explored through several Forum events, including a Talking Theatre series, in which discussions are led by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and Education Consultant Pat Quigley on a variety of topics such as The Dynamics of MarriageWoman as Stereotype“Dying is fine, but death…” and Premonitions and the Supernatural, as embodied in many of this season’s productions.
 
Support for the inaugural season of The Forum is generously provided by Kelly and Michael Meighen and the Province of Ontario, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, with media sponsorship provided by The Walrus. Support for the Speakers Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. W. Philip Hayman.
 
Blithe Spirit officially opens on June 1 and runs until October 20. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.
 
Blithe Spirit is sponsored by CIBC. Production support is generously provided by Nona Macdonald Heaslip, Sally & Larry Rayner and John H. Whiteside. 
 
Support for the 2013 season of the Avon Theatre is generously provided by the Birmingham Family.
 
Stratford Direct, the new daily return private bus service between Toronto and Stratford, began May 1. Departing once daily from May 1 to 25 and October 1 to 20 and twice daily from May 27 to September 29 (on performance days only), the round trip costs only $20.
 
Support for Stratford Direct is generously provided by The Peter Cundill Foundation.
 
The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until October 20, featuring Romeo and JulietFiddler on the RoofThe Three MusketeersThe Merchant of VeniceTommyBlithe SpiritOthelloMeasure for MeasureMary StuartWaiting for Godot and two new Canadian plays, Taking Shakespeare and The Thrill, along with more than 150 Forum events.
 
Cast (in alphabetical order)
Dr. Bradman………………………………….          James Blendick
Edith…………………………………………..         Susie Burnett
Charles Condomine.…………………………..         Ben Carlson
Understudy……………………………………         Shane Carty
Elvira Condomine.…………………………….         Michelle Giroux
Understudy…………………………………….         Monique Lund
Madame Arcati………………………………..         Seana McKenna
Understudy……………………………………         Kaitlyn Riordan
Mrs. Bradman…………………………………         Wendy Thatcher
Ruth Condomine………………………………         Sara Topham
 
Artistic Credits
Director……………………………………….          Brian Bedford
Set Designer…………………………………..          Simon Higlett
Costume Designer…………………………….          Katherine Lubienski
Lighting Designer…………………………….          Paul Miller
Sound Designer……………………………….         Jim Neil
Stunt Coordinator……………………………..         John Stead
Producer………………………………………          David Auster
Casting Director………………………………          Beth Russell
Creative Planning Director……………………         Jason Miller
Assistant Set Designer…………………………         Devon Bhim
Assistant Costume Designer…………………..         Sara Brzozowski
Assistant Lighting Designer…………………..         C.J. Astronomo
Stage Manager…………………………………         Michael Hart
Assistant Stage Managers……………………..         Meghan Callan, Holly Korhonen
Apprentice Stage Manager……………………         Christopher Sibbald
Production Assistant…………………………..         Katie Honek
Production Stage Manager…………………….        Julie Miles
Technical Director…………………………….          Elissa Horscroft
 
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One thought on “Press Release | Noël Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit starts previews

  1. This is the production I have been most eagerly anticipating. It was one of my very first shows as a girl. I can’t wait to see it!

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