Leslie Uggams, Renee Elise Goldsberry & More to Star In Reading Of BLITHE SPIRIT on STARS IN THE HOUSE

By: May. 07, 2020
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Leslie Uggams, Renee Elise Goldsberry & More to Star In Reading Of BLITHE SPIRIT on STARS IN THE HOUSE

Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley announced today that as part of "Stars In The House's" "Plays In The House" series, Leslie Uggams will star as Madame Arcati in a reading of BLITHE SPIRIT, presented in support of The Actors Fund with special permission from the Noël Coward Foundation. Renee Elise Goldsberry (Elvira), Thom Sesma (Dr. Bradman), Angel Desai (Violet Bradman), Montego Glover (Ruth), Kendyl Ito (Edith), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Narrator), and William Jackson Harper (Charles Condomine) will join Ms. Uggams on Saturday, May 9th at 2 PM ET. Schele Williams will direct; Tara Rubin Casting assembled the lineup. Fans can watch live on the Stars In The House YouTube channel and on starsinthehouse.com, and will be able to donate to The Actors Fund during the performance. Those who can't join the live audience will still be able to enjoy the show online until 2 PM ET on Wednesday, May 13th.

"When James told me that Leslie Uggams would like to play the role of Madame Arcati in Noël Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT for the Plays In The House series, it seemed a great opportunity to explore BLITHE SPIRIT with a diverse cast," said Tara Rubin. "The Noël Coward Foundation is committed to making sure Coward's work stays alive and relevant in our world so I knew they would love the idea. With Schele Williams directing and this amazing cast, I think we are all in for a great Saturday afternoon."

"We are thrilled to be able to grant special permission for this reading of Blithe Spirit and very excited by the extraordinary cast brought together under the direction of Schele Williams," said Alan Brodie, Chair of the Noël Coward Foundation. "In his lifetime Noël Coward supported many theatrical charities in the UK and the US. He was President of the Actors Orphanage in London from 1935 - 1956 and in that capacity organized and supported numerous children coming to North America to avoid the Blitz in the Second World War. Many of these children still live in the country that took them in. He would, therefore, be extremely proud that the charitable foundation established in his name is working with Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley to collaborate with The Actors Fund to raise money for those so badly affected by COVID-19. How appropriate that the play chosen is Blithe Spirit, which opened at the height of the Blitz in 1941. As Coward said in his opening night speech that despite the extremely difficult circumstances - 'our actors can still play lightly and gaily, and our audiences can still laugh and applaud and enjoy themselves. How proud I am to make even the small contribution of this play towards our universal valiant determination to get on with the job.' The audience may be virtual and spread far and wide but the sentiments are exactly the same."

Casting Director and Noël Coward Foundation trustee Geoffrey Johnson shed some light on the play's storied history: "The original production opened in London in 1941 with fabulous Margaret Rutherford as Madame Arcati at the Picadilly Theatre and ran for 1,997 performances as World War II was hitting England. Noel wrote later 'with distaining archness and no false modesty, I finished it in six days and knew it would be a hit!' It then opened in NY with Clifton Webb as Charles and was a hit again. Most recently Angela Lansbury played Arcati in NY and L.A. She was a brilliant Arcati in yet another revival."

BLITHE SPIRIT is the latest to be included in the "Plays In The House" series, in which luminaries of stage and screen read classics and new works on "Stars In The House" to raise money for The Actors Fund to help entertainment professionals in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Past performances include TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, written by and starring Nia Vardalos; THE HEIDI CHRONICLES starring Cynthia Nixon, Joan Allen, and Boyd Gaines; and MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD featuring Andréa Burns and Justin Guarini, among others. On "Stars In The House," Seth and James bring together celebrity guests to sing and share stories: Jason Alexander, Sean Hayes, Chita Rivera, Kristin Chenoweth, Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond, Jeremy Jordan, Randy Rainbow, Judith Light, Audra McDonald and Will Swenson, Peyton List, Patrick Wilson, Billy Porter and Annette Bening are just some of the stars who have joined since the first show on March 16th. And often Seth and James remind their guests how important it is to keep in touch with loved ones during this social distancing and suddenly a surprise guest will pop up like Jon Hamm, Erik McCormack, John Lithgow, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Jessie Mueller, Iain Armitage, Rosie O'Donnell and Andrew Lloyd Webber!

"Stars In The House" airs new episodes daily at 2 PM and 8 PM on its YouTube channel and starsinthehouse.com.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos