Blithe Spirit to Play Broadway in 2009, or: Ebersole vs. McDonald... round 2

As everyone else in the blog world has already posted, Noël Coward's 1941 comedy Blithe Spirit will be making its way back to the Broadway stage in Spring 2009. The production itself is reason enough to celebrate, but even more reason to is due to the casting of the magnanimous Christine Ebersole as the ethereal Elvira.

The 2007 Tony Award-winning actress, who played the dual roles of Little and Big Edie in the musical Grey Gardens, will be directed by Michael Blakemore (Deuce) at a Shubert Theatre to be announced. provides a blurb for the classic comedy of manners:
In Blithe Spirit, one of Coward's biggest successes, novelist Charles Condomine, living with his second wife, Ruth, invites a local medium, Madame Arcati, to his house. His intention is to do some research into the spirit world for his new book. But he gets more than he bargained for when Arcati conjures up the ghost of Charles first wife, Elvira. Caught between one live wife and one dead wife — both jealous of the other — Charles thinks matters couldn't be worse.
I fell in love with Blithe Spirit during my run as Dr. Bradford in my award-winning high school one-act competition production. I particularly enjoy the high antics towards the closing of the play with the medium Madame Arcati and objects flying off the walls and mantles of the Condomine's estate. The character of Madame Arcati was re-envisioned as a highly eccentric Asian gypsy with a short temper by my classmate Beeyah Ngyugen. And she was hilarious! After all of our competitive performances, every critique we had thoroughly expressed their joy and enthusiasm for that aspect of our production. I give credit to my high school theatre director April Cox for our success at a very challenging production (comedies of manners and high school actors hardly ever make for good entertainment). I still credit her for teaching me everything I know about acting and development. Thanks Mrs. Cox!

I doubt this new revival will have an Asian Arcati, but if rumors materialize into reality, we will have a real treat with goddess Angela Lansbury in the role. Apparently producer Jeffrey Richards is drooling over the idea. I don't blame him. Drooling is an understatement in my case.

Other casting dreams? I would love to see Audra McDonald as Ruth, Charles' current, insecure and temperate wife. McDonald holds a grace and elegance with her stage presence; and the chance to see her sparring with Christine Ebersole on the same stage would make for wondrous serendipity for me.

As I've previously written, I hold a dumb bias against the great Ebersole because she won the Tony for Grey Gardens over McDonald in 110 in the Shade. I still hold the belief that for once in history a tie would have been legit.

That casting won't happen (McDonald is far too busy with Private Practice [season premiere tonight]), but I can dream. And dream I will.

Any casting thoughts on the pivotal role of Charles?


Esther said...

Oh wow, I love Audra, too! I saw her in "110 in the Shade" and she was wonderful. What a powerful voice. Although Ms. Ebersole was pretty amazing in "Grey Gardens," too. I loved them both but I think I probably would have given Christine the nod over Audra. Both of her roles in "Grey Gardens" were just incredible characters and she nailed both of them.


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