BLITHE SPIRIT to Play at Shubert Starting 2/26
The producers of Blithe Spirit are pleased to announce the show will play The Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street). Rehearsals began on Monday, January 26, 2009 with the first performance on Thursday, February 26, 2009.
Stage and screen star Simon Jones (Waiting in the Wings, The Real Thing), best known to audiences around the world for playing 'Arthur Dent' in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, will return to the New York stage in the role of "Dr. Bradman" in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit.
Jones joins the previously announced Angela Lansbury (Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, Dear World, Mame) in the role of "Madame Arcati", Rupert Everett (My Best Friend's Wedding, An Ideal Husband) in the role of "Charles" and Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens, 42nd Street) in the role of "Elvira." The production will be directed by two-time Tony Award winner Michael Blakemore (Copenhagen, Kiss Me Kate).
Blithe Spirit is returning to its roots at the home of straight plays, joining a distinguished list of plays that ran at The Shubert Theatre. Prior to the long run of A Chorus Line, the theatre has been home to a plethora of successful straight plays. In 1913, the theatre opened with a trio of Shakespearean plays: Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet. Over the course of 95 years, the theatre has featured: George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's Beggar on a Horseback (1925), Sidney Howard's Dodsworth (1934), Alexandre Dumas' Camille (1935), Anton Chekhov's The Seagull (1938), Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story (1939), Robert E. Sherwood's Idiots Delight (1936), Maxwell Anderson's Anne of the Thousand Days (1948), George Axelrod's Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1956), Leonard Spigelgass' A Majority of One (1959), John Osborne's Inadmissible Evidence (1966), Frederick Knott's Wait Until Dark, Arthur Miller's The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972), Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1973), W. Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife (1975) and Edward Albee's Pulitzer-prize winning, Seascape (1975).
Angela Lansbury, who last appeared on Broadway in Deuce, has enjoyed a career without precedent. Her professional career spans more than a half-century, during which she has flourished, first as a star of motion pictures, then as a four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical star and most recently as the star of "Murder, She Wrote," the longest-running detective drama series in the history of television. The actress made her Broadway debut in 1957 when she starred as Bert Lahr's wife in the French farce, Hotel Paradiso. In 1960, she returned to Broadway as Joan Plowright's mother in the season's most acclaimed drama, A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney. One year later, she starred on Broadway in her first musical, Anyone Can Whistle. Lansbury returned to New York in triumph in 1966 as Mame, for which she won the first of her unprecedented four Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical. She received the others as the Madwoman of Chaillot in Dear World (1968), as Mama Rose in the 1974 revival of Gypsy and as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1979). From 1984-1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on "Murder, She Wrote," for which she won four Golden Globe Awards. In 1982, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and in 1994 she was named a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Angela and her husband Peter were married in 1949. They worked together until Peter's death in January 2003. Angela has three grown children, Deirdre, Anthony and David, and three grandchildren.
Rupert Everett is no stranger to Noel Coward, having previously delivered an acclaimed performance as "Nicky" in The Vortex at the Garrick Theatre on the West End. Best known for his star making and Golden Globe nominated turns in My Best Friend's Wedding and An Ideal Husband, Rupert Everett has been a fixture in feature films and television for the past 20 years. Following his theatrical training at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and the avant-garde Glasgow Citizens Theatre, Everett received his big break in Kenneth Branagh's 1982 West End production of Another Country. Since his first film appearance, in the feature film adaptation of Country, he has appeared in over 25 acclaimed motion pictures, including Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Hearts of Fire, The Comfort of Strangers, Prêt-à-Porter, The Madness of King George, Shakespeare in Love, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Next Best Thing, The Importance of Being Earnest, To Kill a King, Stage Beauty, Shrek 2 & 3, Separate Lies, Stardust, and St. Trinian's. His television credits include "Arthur the King," "Mr. Ambassador," and "Boston Legal." In addition to eight credits with the Glasgow Citizen's Theatre (notably Picture of Dorian Gray, Noel Coward's Private Lives, Don Juan, and Heartbreak House), Everett's other West End credits include Appeal at the Lyric Hammersmith
Christine Ebersole received the Tony Award, Obie Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Special Citation from NY Drama Critics and the Drama League Award for Performance of the Year for her dual roles as Edith and Edie Beale in Grey Gardens. Her Broadway credits include Steel Magnolias, Dinner at Eight (Tony and Outer Critics Circle noms.), 42nd Street (2001 Tony and Outer Critics Circle Awards), The Best Man, Getting Away With Murder, Harrigan 'n Hart, Camelot (opposite Richard Burton and Richard Harris), Oklahoma!, On the Twentieth Century, I Love My Wife and Angel Street. Off-Broadway credits include Alan Bennett's Talking Heads (2003 Obie and Outer Critics Circle awards, Drama Desk nom.), Three Sisters, Geniuses and four Encores! concerts. Regional credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Old Globe), Mame, Evita, My Fair Lady, The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Laughing Wild. Films include Tootsie, Amadeus, Dead Again, Richie Rich, Black Sheep, Folks!, True Crime, Till There Was You, My Favorite Martian, Thief of Hearts and My Girl 2. Television includes "Saturday Night Live" (series regular '81-'82 season), "Gypsy" with Bette Midler, "One Life to Live" (Emmy nom.), "Ryan's Hope," "The Cavanaughs" (with the late great Barnard Hughes), "Valerie," "Ink," "Related" and guest appearances on "Will & Grace," "Just Shoot Me," "Murphy Brown" and "Ally McBeal." CD's include In Your Dreams with Billy Stritch, Live at the Cinegrill and Grey Gardens.
Simon Jones made his Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and has since appeared in Benefactors, The School for Scandal, Getting Married, Private Lives, The Real Inspector Hound & Hamlet (Stoppard's 15-minute version), The Herbal Bed, Ring Round the Moon, Waiting in the Wings, and (voice only) in the current production of 39 Steps. Off-Broadway appearances include Woman in Mind, Terra Nova, You Never Can Tell, Passion Play, Privates on Parade, Long Island Sound, Home, and Phallacy. In addition to a long list of UK credits, his U.S. regional appearances included the lead role in the American premiere of Brian Friel's The Home Place, at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis last year. He has returned to the Guthrie, where he stars as C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands for a 2-month run this November and December. Among Simon's film credits are Privates on Parade, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, Miracle on 34th Street (the remake). The Devil's Own, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , Griffin & Phoenix and the forthcoming Spectropia.
On television, recent appearances include OZ for HBO, Cambridge Spies for the BBC, and the portrayal of C.S.Lewis in The Question of God for PBS. Nonetheless he is still best remembered as 'Bridey' in Brideshead Revisited (the original mini-series), and 'Arthur Dent' in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a role written for him by the author Douglas Adams. He is co-Artistic Director of TACT (The Actors' Company Theatre), which currently has the acclaimed production of Bedroom Farce playing on Theatre Row.
Michael Blakemore (Director) is one of the theatre's most accomplished directors of comedy. Broadway credits include the original productions of Noises Off and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Lettice and Lovage, the Tony Award winning musical comedy City of Angels and last season's unique Mark Twain-David Ives collaboration Is He Dead?
Blithe Spirit will be produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Steve Traxler, currently represented on Broadway with August: Osage County and the production of Speed-The-Plow.
Blithe Spirit, one of Noel Coward's most popular comedies, was first seen on Broadway, in 1941, the same year it was produced in London where it set British box office records and was the longest running comedy (1997 performances) until it was eventually surpassed by Boeing-Boeing in the 1970's. The original Broadway production played nearly two years and co-starred Leonora Corbett, Mildred Natwick, Clifton Webb and Peggy Wood. It was last seen on Broadway in an all-star production in 1987 with Richard Chamberlain, Blythe Danner, Judith Ivey, and Geraldine Page, in her final Broadway appearance.
Coward, in his autobiography, claimed he wrote the play in five days during a holiday. Only two lines of dialogue were removed before its first production in London.