Colonial's 'Blithe Spirit' delights

September 11, 1997|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Can a comedy first performed in 1941 amuse audiences today? The answer is a resounding yes. On opening night of "Blithe Spirit" at Colonial Players last weekend, the audience appreciated the wit of the Noel Coward show.

Charles Condomine, his late wife, Elvira, and his current wife, Ruth, the characters at the center of the show, rank among the wittiest to inhabit any drawing room.

Bob Nelson, in his first appearance as a director with Colonial Players, demonstrates that he is at home with the urbane playwright and delivers a first-rate show with top-notch performances.

As Elvira, whose spirit is summoned up in a seance, Priscilla Schneider is a mischievous sprite with an ethereal presence. Joan Fontana, as Ruth, appears oblivious to Elvira's antics. Charles is played by Frank Moorman, who is superb as he shows increasing affection for Elvira and alternates between compassion and exasperation with Ruth.

Walter Foster as Dr. Bradman, one of the guests, combines skepticism and charm, and Peggy Owens as his wife, Violet, shows an enthusiasm for the supernatural.

Mary Tsakis commands the stage as the medium, Madame Arcati, chanting and throwing herself into trances while convincing us that she is a quite normal person capable of performing witchcraft.

Jan Kleckner steals a few scenes in the minor, though pivotal, role of the maid, Edith, and makes setting the table a ballet tour de force.

The special effects by Dottie Meggers are fantastic, with paintings that shake on the wall, books that fall from shelves and hanging lamps that spark as they slip downward.

"Blithe Spirit" continues at Colonial Players, 108 East St. in Annapolis. Performances are Thursdays through Sundays until Oct. 4. Reservations: 410-268-7373.

Pub Date: 9/11/97

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