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Broadway Blogs - Blithe Spirit Review Roundup and More...

Below are BroadwayWorld.com's blogs from Monday, March 16, 2009. Catch up below on anything that you might have missed from BroadwayWorld.com's bloggers!

Blithe Spirit Review Roundup
by Robert Diamond - March 16, 2009

Angela Lansbury returns to Broadway in the revival of Noel Coward's classic 1941 farce Blithe Spirit, also starring Christine Ebersole and Rupert Everett. Researching material for a new novel, Charles engages Madame Arcati, a spiritual medium of uncertain talents, to communicate with the dead.

Quite by accident, she summons the spirit of Charles’s first wife, Elvira, and can't make her go away. Ruth, Charles' current wife, is rather put out. This 1941 comedy features Coward's sparkling dialogue and a wickedly clever plot.

Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press: "And for the most part, the starry cast of the latest Broadway revival of "Blithe Spirit" delivers the goods, artfully keeping the classic Noel Coward comedy spinning merrily at the Shubert Theatre. But then it helps to have Angela Lansbury on hand to play Madame Arcati, the irrepressible spiritualist who delights in contacting those beyond the grave. She makes it look easy _ and blissfully funny _ as the woman who inadvertently sets up an otherworldly love triangle."

Ben Brantley, New York Times: "But it's Madame Arcati who walks - or rather dances - away with the show, as she has always been wont to do. Those who know Ms. Lansbury only as the bland, level-headed Jessica Fletcher of television's "Murder, She Wrote" may not be aware of this actress's depth and variety of technique. Ms. Lansbury brings seven decades of experience with her - in work ranging from fabled musicals ("Mame," "Sweeney Todd'") to classic dark films ("Gaslight," "The Manchurian Candidate") - to the role of Madame Arcati, her juiciest in years. Even when she's off her lines, she's on top of her character, and she demonstrates how an expert can turn surface silliness into something of real substance."

John Simon, Bloomberg News: "When a scintillating comedy, masterly direction and superior performances come together, what have you got? A rip-roaring revival of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" that lights up Broadway's Shubert Theatre."

David Sheward, Back Stage: It's clear that audiences filling the Shubert Theatre have not come principally to see Blithe Spirit, Noël Coward's classic comedy of whimsy and the occult. They are there to see Angela Lansbury. Every entrance and exit of the four-time Tony winner and TV favorite is greeted with rapturous applause. Her Madame Arcati, the dotty medium who accidentally conjures up a coquettish and home-wrecking ghost, is an amalgam of her most beloved roles. She combines the mad glint in the eye of Mrs. Lovett, the amoral baker of Sweeney Todd; the investigative instinct of Jessica Fletcher, the adorable sleuth of Murder She Wrote; and the enjoyment in her own eccentricity of Mame. At the preview performance attended, Lansbury was fumbling for lines occasionally, but she recovered with golden pieces of business. Her ecstatic reaction to spectral manifestations and her bizarre little dances to get in the mood for a trance are worth the price of admission."

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: "Like her character, daffy medium Madame Arcati, Lansbury creates mischievous chaos in "Blithe Spirit" - some of her co-stars seem to struggle to keep pace with her somewhat loose M.O."

Joe Dziemianicz, NY Daily News: "Watching the 83-year-old Lansbury work her magic is endless fun, as she seemingly channels past characters - from the loopy Mrs. Lovett from "Sweeney Todd" to the cagey detective Jessica Fletcher from "Murder, She Wrote." You wonder what the actress will do next, and when she launches into her go-into-my-trance dance, she's simply hilarious. Both times. Otherwise, director Michael Blakemore doesn't offer much in terms of imagination in this revival, unlike the last Coward production on Broadway, "Private Lives," which ran in 2002 and was out of this world. "

Linda Winer, Newsday: "Coward hasn't had much luck on Broadway in recent years, and this "Blithe Spirit," for all its pleasant charms, doesn't entirely reverse the curse. How odd that Blakemore - the British master director of such stylish braininess as "Copenhagen" and such stylish foolishness as "Noises Off" - does not locate more of the luxurious, brittle sheen and the high-style physical humor in this farce about a married novelist bewitched by the ghost of his first wife. Instead, we get old-fashioned scene titles, hokey effects and a pretty dowdy set. "

Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: "The cast for Noel Coward's popular 1941 play, which opened Sunday at the Shubert Theatre, is top-drawer, but, as directed by Michael Blakemore, they never quite make the shift from conventional comedy to the exaggerated, antic style of farce."

Nicholas Fonseca, Entertainment Weekly: "No regular theatergoer will be surprised to learn that Ebersole elevates both the energy and the effervescence of this dim show. Flouncing about in an ethereal white gown, Elvira wreaks playful havoc, moving objects and taunting Ruth with giggly nerve. Ebersole was clearly born to perform; in fact, it's to the detriment of her fellow actors that she so effortlessly commands attention when she's on stage. In Spirit's second half, it's Ruth who ends up on the other side with Elvira. Naturally, the old girl discovers just how fun it is to fluster Charles from beyond. Atkinson and Ebersole make a fine comedic duo, and as they flit through their scenes like naughty angels, you realize that these two need their own show. Actually, scratch what I said earlier. Thelma and Louise still need to see their names in neon lights, right? B-"

 


Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 3/15 & Algonquin Round Table Quote of the Week
by Michael Dale - March 16, 2009

The scenery in the play was beautiful, but the actors got in front of it.
-- Alexander Woollcott

 

The grosses are out for the week ending 3/15/2009 and we've got them all right here in BroadwayWorld.com's grosses section.

Up for the week was: EXIT THE KING (71.7%), CHICAGO (20.0%), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (17.0%), THE 39 STEPS (16.4%), MARY POPPINS (14.5%), AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (12.0%), AVENUE Q (11.3%), MAMMA MIA! (9.6%), HEDDA GABLER (8.7%), IN THE HEIGHTS (8.5%), THE LION KING (7.6%), THE LITTLE MERMAID (7.2%), IMPRESSIONISM (7.1%), BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL (5.4%), SHREK THE MUSICAL (5.1%), GOD OF CARNAGE (3.6%), GUYS AND DOLLS (2.3%), JERSEY BOYS (2.0%), 33 VARIATIONS (1.9%), WICKED (1.9%), WEST SIDE STORY (0.8%),

Down for the week was: THE AMERICAN PLAN (-5.1%), YOU'RE WELCOME AMERICA. A FINAL NIGHT WITH GEORGE W. BUSH (-3.4%), BLITHE SPIRIT (-2.9%), SOUTH PACIFIC (-0.6%),


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