BLITHE SPIRIT Starring Jennifer Saunders Will Embark on a UK Tour and Transfer to the West End
Noël Coward's classic comedy Blithe Spirit, directed by Sir Richard Eyre and starring Jennifer Saunders, will return next year for a UK tour followed by a strictly limited 6-week engagement at the West End's Duke of York's Theatre following a celebrated reception in Bath earlier this summer.
The new tour opens at Theatre Royal Brighton where it runs from 22 to 25 January and will then visit Malvern Theatre from 27 January to 1 February, Theatre Royal Bath from 4 to 8 February, Cambridge Arts Theatre from 10 to 15 February, Richmond Theatre from 17 to 22 February and Norwich Theatre Royal from 24 to 29 February before arriving in the West End at the Duke of York's Theatre from 5 March to 11 April 2020, with opening night for press on Tuesday 10 March.
Jennifer Saunders, one of the UK's most popular comic actors, will revive her role as the preposterous clairvoyant Madame Arcati. She is joined by original cast members Geoffrey Streatfeild who will star as Charles, Lisa Dillon as Ruth Condomine, Emma Naomi as Elvira, Simon Coates as Dr Bradman, Lucy Robinson as Mrs Bradman, and Rose Wardlaw as Edith. The production brings together a distinguished and multi-award-winning creative team, directed by former National Theatre director Sir Richard Eyre with design by Anthony Ward, lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by John Leonard and illusions by Paul Kieve.
Written in 1941, Coward's inventive, witty and meticulously engineered comedy proved light relief and a popular distraction at the height of World War II when it was first staged. The show had a record-breaking run in the West End and on Broadway and remains one of the playwright's most popular works.
This new production opened in June as part of Artistic Director Jonathan Church's second Summer Season at Theatre Royal Bath where it played to sell out houses and was widely praised by critics and public alike. It is the third play from Jonathan Church's Summer Season programmes to transfer to the West End following last year's 50th anniversary production of Arthur Miller's The Price at Wyndham's Theatre and Switzerland at the Ambassadors.
Novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth are literally haunted by a past relationship when an eccentric medium inadvertently conjures up the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, at a séance. When she appears, visible only to Charles, and determined to sabotage his current marriage, life - and the afterlife - get complicated.
Noël Coward was an English playwright, composer, actor, producer and director. His dramas include Hay Fever and Private Lives. For film, he wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning In Which We Serve and the screenplay for Brief Encounter.
Jennifer Saunders is well known as one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders, for which she and Dawn French received a BAFTA fellowship in 2009, and for the hit comedy series and subsequent film, Absolutely Fabulous, which she also wrote and starred in. She has received numerous awards including two Emmys, five BAFTAs and four British Comedy Awards. Other recent credits include Lady Windermere's Fan (West End) and the BBC series Jam and Jerusalem.
Geoffrey Streatfeild has appeared on TV in Spooks, The Hollow Crown, The Thick of It and The Other Boleyn Girl, and on film in Making Noise Quietly, The Lady in the Van, Kinky Boots and A Royal Night Out. Stage credits include the Histories Cycle (RSC), Cell Mates (Hampstead), The Beaux Stratagem (National Theatre) and My Night with Reg (Donmar).
Lisa Dillon starred as Mary Smith in the BBC series Cranford. Her stage credits include Richard Eyre's Private Lives in the West End, the RSC's The Roaring Girl and The Taming of the Shrew, A Flea in Her Ear and Design for Living at the Old Vic and The Knot of the Heart and When the Rain Stops Falling at the Almeida.
Emma Naomi starred recently in Pinter at the Pinter (Jamie Lloyd Productions/ATG), Bread and Roses (Oldham Coliseum), The Cherry Orchard (Bristol Old Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange), Dead Don't Floss (National Theatre), Don Juan in Soho (Wyndham's Theatre) and, for television, Channel 4's Chimerica.
Simon Coates's stage credits include Richard III (Almeida), 1984 (West End), The Cherry Orchard (Royal Exchange, Bristol Old Vic), King John (Shakespeare's Globe). He has also toured the UK with Regeneration, The Misanthrope, Romeo & Juliet and The Hypochondriac.
Lucy Robinson's stage credits include Waste, The Hard Problem (National Theatre), Handbagged (Vaudeville), Sweet Bird of Youth (Old Vic), In the Next Room (Theatre Royal Bath). Her many TV credits include Cold Feet, Coronation Street, Call the Midwife, Doc Martin, Doctor and Pride and Prejudice.
Rose Wardlaw recently performed in Outlying Islands at the King's Head. She has previously appeared in Eyam, The Winter's Tale (Shakespeare's Globe), Jubilee (Lyric Hammersmith) and Great Expectations (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and, for television, Call the Midwife and Doctors.
Sir Richard Eyre was at the helm of The National Theatre for 10 years and is the winner of five Olivier Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award. His numerous hugely-acclaimed productions include Guys and Dolls, The Invention of Love and Private Lives. His award-winning film and television work includes Iris, Tumbledown and The Children Act.
Anthony Ward has designed numerous productions including the Tony Award-winning Mary Stuart, the Olivier Award-winning Oklahoma! and What's on Stage Award winner Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Howard Harrison is a two-times Olivier Award-winning lighting designer whose recent works include Impossible and Mamma Mia! (London, Broadway and worldwide).
John Leonard is an award-winning sound designer and has worked extensively across the UK including at The National Theatre, Almeida, Royal Court, Chichester Festival Theatre, Birmingham Rep and Manchester Royal Exchange.
Paul Kieve is an internationally renowned illusionist whose recent theatre credits include Matilda (West End and UK tour) and Groundhog Day (Broadway). He is the co-creator of David Blaine Live and Dynamo's international tour and consultant on the live shows for David Copperfield, Penn & Teller in Las Vegas and Derren Brown.
Tickets are on sale now for the Duke of York's Theatre via www.atgtickets.com/shows/blithe-spirit/duke-of-yorks-theatre/ and are available for Brighton, Malvern, Bath, Cambridge, Richmond and Norwich via individual venues and websites