BWW Reviews: Arvada Center Presents a Thoroughly Delightful BLITHE SPIRIT
The Arvada Center presents the farcical comedy classic, BLITHE SPIRIT by Noël Coward playing now until February 17th. BLITHE SPIRIT is a classic Noël Coward comedy set in a British country house in the 1930's. This spirited story opens as novelist Charles Condomine, invites eccentric clairvoyant Madame Arcati to hold a séance at the home as research for his latest book. The attempt backfires when the Madame inadvertently conjures up the ghost of his temperamental first wife, Elvira who immediately takes issue with Charles' second wife Ruth. Comedy and mayhem run rampant throughout this spirited farce as Elvira attempts to disrupt Charles' marriage while scheming ways to have him join her in the afterlife.
I was so excited to see this Noel Coward classic and the Arvada Center didn't disappoint in their wonderfully executed production. Noel has such a words and he truly is the pinnacle of British wit. The casts understanding of the words and this script helped to elevate this complex show. The entire build-up to the seance was fun and the trance led by the dynamic Madame Arcati was absolutely hilarious. Elvira's haunting was simply delicious and the double word play as Charles tried to talk to both wives was thoroughly enjoyable. This show is full of twists and turns that keeps this rather long show moving effortlessly. This all led to a fun-filled and satisfying ending that was a crowd pleaser. Just remember - there is a fine line between civility and madness, especially when dealing with the undead!
Ruth Kate Berry as Charles' hysterical new bride, was magnificent and I loved watching her downward spiral during the haunting. Charles, played by the talented Steven Cole Hughes was also quite wonderful and really drove the entire show. His concentration on directing his lines to the correct recipient, living or dead and his reactions were simply a delight to watch. I have to say that while everyone's performance was superb, this night truly belonged to Leslie O' Carroll as Madame Arcati. Her interpretation of the medium was more husky and gutsy that I have seen before (she gave the Madame balls) and the audience just loved it. She was so energetic and I loved her accent. Edith Boni McIntyre was absolutely hilarious as their maid. She had me in stitches the entire time she was onstage and everyone just fell in love with her. Heather Lacy found a way to be funny, evil, and delightful in her portrayal of the deceased Elvira. One of the most interesting things I noted about her outstanding performance was how through the use of posture and body language, she really did give the appearance of being dead and ethereal. Dr. George Bradman (played by Mark Rubald) and Mrs. Violet Bradman (played by Alex Ryer) were also quite dynamic in their performance and just fun to watch.
Director Rod A. Lansberry featured some amazing talent in this classic and his thorough understanding and appreciation of this masters words further brought out the humor in this exceptional production. My only suggestion would be that with such a long show, they cut down the two intermissions from fifteen to ten minutes. Designer Brian Mallgrave did it once again in his interpretation of this effect filled show with a set that was so lovely and British. There was a sense or regality and comfort about this set and I simply loved that wallpaper. Lighting by Jon Olson was great and sound by designer Morgan McCauley helped to enhance this technical show and the effects were just fun. I have to add that I loved the music choices that put everyone in a nostalgic mood. Costume Design by Chris Campbell was wonderful with great color and totally appropriate for the time period. I also have to compliment wig and makeup designer Diana Ben-Kiki especially for her makeover of the deceased.
BLITHE SPIRIT is delighting audiences at the Arvada Center's Black Box Theater now until February 17th. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. For tickets or more information, contact the Arvada Center box office online at www.arvadacenter.org or call 720-898-7200.
PHOTO CREDIT: P. Switzer
Pictured L-R: Steven Cole Hughes (Charles Condomine) and Heather Lacy (Elvira)
From This Author Michael Mulhern