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Blithe Spirit

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By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | September 11, 1997
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.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 26, 2014
Everyman Theatre has been on a roll since the beginning of 2013, when the company inaugurated its inviting new downtown space. The first full season in that venue - there's one more play left, "Tribes," opening May 28 - has been marked by exceptionally effective stagings of diverse works (three were given extra weeks to meet demand). "That's why it took so long to come up with a second season," said Everyman's artistic director, Vincent Lancisi. "I really felt intimidated by the scope of this one. " What Lancisi devised for 2014-2015 is a promising mix of three Baltimore premieres and three vintage plays.
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FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | April 30, 1996
"Blithe Spirit" is an atypical Noel Coward comedy in two respects. It's highly plotted and its characters are middle -- instead of upper -- class.This may explain why director Kyle Donnelly has brought a kind of stylish sitcom sensibility to Arena Stage's production of this play about a happily married novelist whose affections are suddenly alienated by the appearance of the ghost of his deceased first wife.The sitcom feeling begins with bumping the time period up from the 1940s, when the play was written, to the 1950s, when TV sitcoms came into their own. It is reinforced with music and sound effects -- designed by Timothy Thompson -- ranging from "Bewitched"-style theme music to ominous horror movie chords.
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | May 28, 2011
You could always tell when Kay Cavanaugh was around, whether you could see her or not. It was that infectious and penetrating laugh of hers that came so easily, erupted often and brightened classrooms, living rooms, social gatherings and even the sacred galleries of some of the world's most fabled art museums. Kay — who never took herself too seriously and made legions of friends — remained a free spirit and unpretentious individual her entire 91 years. I was saddened to learn in late March that she had died in February, from congestive heart failure in Palo Alto, Calif., where she had lived for the last seven years to be near her two children, Connie Cavanaugh and Neal Cavanaugh, and her grandson, Max Rausch.
NEWS
By Nelson Pressley and Nelson Pressley,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | October 28, 1999
Fun is the only real reason to stage Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit," or to see it. It isn't one of Coward's smarter or more insightful plays. It's simply a comic romp about a man whose dead first wife comes back to haunt him and his second wife. The play might be simple, but playing it is not. This story about the ghost who came to dinner demands a breezy style and carefree energy that's in short supply in the current production by the Columbia Community Players. Director William T. Brown's stage should be alive with frantic action and distracted antics, but too often it looks like an ordinary cocktail hour, with the actors sitting placidly on the stuffed furniture and talking in low tones.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | September 4, 1997
Colonial Players, the theater on East Street in Annapolis, opens its 49th season tomorrow with Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit." It is one of three comedies scheduled this season.The others are "My Three Angels" by Sam and Bella Spewack, which runs Jan. 16 through Feb 14, and Larry Gelbart's "Sly Fox," an updated version of Ben Jonson's "Volpone," which runs April 24 through May 23.John Olive's "Voice of the Prairie," a drama about the early days of radio in the Midwest, runs Oct. 17 through Nov. 15, and "Cabaret," the musical set in Germany during Hitler's rise to power, written by John Mastroff with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, runs March 6 through April 4.The theater also has scheduled its annual production of Rick Wade and Dick Gessner's "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 4-7 and Dec. 11-14.
NEWS
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | May 5, 1996
A silk dinner jacket, a martini, a cigarette held at a debonair angle. Smart repartee spoken in an impeccably clipped British accent. Songs with witty lyrics about mad dogs and Englishmen or the dangers of putting your daughter on the stage.They're all identified with Noel Coward -- a man who was and still is the epitome of style for audiences of his sparkling comedies, three of which are playing on area stages.What was the secret of Coward's style? In a word, substance.He was an extremely hard worker who cultivated an air of indolence, a product of the middle classes who was more aristocratic than the aristocrats, and an author of deceptively light drawing-room comedies that are actually about serious emotional subjects.
ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | September 30, 2004
Native Baltimorean Paul DeBoy hasn't done a lot of acting in his hometown in recent years, but suddenly area audiences can see a lot of him -- all of him, in fact, since he's one of the few actors who appears in the nude in John Waters' new movie, A Dirty Shame. In the movie, DeBoy and actress Susan Allenbach play husband and wife swingers. It was DeBoy's first Waters movie, as well as his first on-screen nude scene. What surprised him most about Waters, he says, was that "he's so shy. We finished doing the nude scene, which both Susan and I were angsting about, and [Waters]
NEWS
By Roger Dettmer | November 1, 1992
NOEL COWARD.Clive Fisher.St. Martin's.` 289 pages. $24.95.Amateur actors somewhere are rehearsing Noel Coward's antique farce, "Hay Fever," even as we speak. A high school director favors "Bittersweet" (1929) for his next senior operetta. Veteran televixens who've lost their prime-time soaps to more hip shows with ZIP-code titles talk of touring in "Private Lives" (1930), prior to Broadway of course, or the West End. And dinner theaters by the gross stage "Blithe Spirit" (1943), even if the ghost thing can't be lit right, or a suitable quartet of actors rounded up.Of 37 plays by Coward produced between 1922 and 1966, these alone are the survivors as his birth centenary looms, along with cable reruns of three British films he wrote and/or starred in during the '40s.
NEWS
By MICHAEL OLESKER | August 31, 1993
Charley Willis had a happy fearlessness about him. If there was a cliff from which to jump, he was first in line. If there was a stranger to be embraced, he was there. Did he know what he was doing? Not always. And that was precisely what made him beautiful.A lot of us wake up and cringe from each new day. Charley got up and danced. He plunged joyfully into life's unknowns for 21 years, until that crazed kid with a gun shot him in a Severna Park doughnut shop last week over a pen. The mind reels: Charley Willis was always the most alive kid you ever saw.Random snapshots arrive: Charley playing ice hockey for Boys' Latin several years back.
ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | September 30, 2004
Native Baltimorean Paul DeBoy hasn't done a lot of acting in his hometown in recent years, but suddenly area audiences can see a lot of him -- all of him, in fact, since he's one of the few actors who appears in the nude in John Waters' new movie, A Dirty Shame. In the movie, DeBoy and actress Susan Allenbach play husband and wife swingers. It was DeBoy's first Waters movie, as well as his first on-screen nude scene. What surprised him most about Waters, he says, was that "he's so shy. We finished doing the nude scene, which both Susan and I were angsting about, and [Waters]
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen and Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF | February 13, 2004
Harry S. Wolf, an artist, actor and retired Westinghouse Electric Corp. librarian and designer who once ran a long-shot campaign for mayor of Baltimore, died of septicemia Feb. 6 at Sinai Hospital. She was 84. Mrs. Wolf was born and raised Harry Francis Schlesinger in Atlanta. It was her father's desire that his first child be named after his father - a prominent Atlanta candy manufacturer - and when she turned out to be a girl, she was given the name anyway. Mrs. Wolf - a blithe spirit - stood 5 feet 1 inch tall and was recognizable by her full head of auburn hair and fine tailoring.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | April 19, 2002
Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit is about a marriage in which the vow "Till death do us part" does not apply. Written during the London Blitz, the play is Coward's light comedy about death. But though director Tim Vasen's production at Center Stage contains some sparkling moments, it's mostly a serviceable revival of a work that should be almost continuously effervescent. Coward wrote roles for - or at least modeled after - himself in most of his plays. They're generally identifiable by the trademark smoking jackets and dressing gowns, which are, in this case, worn by David Adkins as Charles Condomine.
NEWS
By Nelson Pressley and Nelson Pressley,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | October 28, 1999
Fun is the only real reason to stage Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit," or to see it. It isn't one of Coward's smarter or more insightful plays. It's simply a comic romp about a man whose dead first wife comes back to haunt him and his second wife. The play might be simple, but playing it is not. This story about the ghost who came to dinner demands a breezy style and carefree energy that's in short supply in the current production by the Columbia Community Players. Director William T. Brown's stage should be alive with frantic action and distracted antics, but too often it looks like an ordinary cocktail hour, with the actors sitting placidly on the stuffed furniture and talking in low tones.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | September 11, 1997
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.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | September 4, 1997
Colonial Players, the theater on East Street in Annapolis, opens its 49th season tomorrow with Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit." It is one of three comedies scheduled this season.The others are "My Three Angels" by Sam and Bella Spewack, which runs Jan. 16 through Feb 14, and Larry Gelbart's "Sly Fox," an updated version of Ben Jonson's "Volpone," which runs April 24 through May 23.John Olive's "Voice of the Prairie," a drama about the early days of radio in the Midwest, runs Oct. 17 through Nov. 15, and "Cabaret," the musical set in Germany during Hitler's rise to power, written by John Mastroff with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, runs March 6 through April 4.The theater also has scheduled its annual production of Rick Wade and Dick Gessner's "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 4-7 and Dec. 11-14.
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen and Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF | February 13, 2004
Harry S. Wolf, an artist, actor and retired Westinghouse Electric Corp. librarian and designer who once ran a long-shot campaign for mayor of Baltimore, died of septicemia Feb. 6 at Sinai Hospital. She was 84. Mrs. Wolf was born and raised Harry Francis Schlesinger in Atlanta. It was her father's desire that his first child be named after his father - a prominent Atlanta candy manufacturer - and when she turned out to be a girl, she was given the name anyway. Mrs. Wolf - a blithe spirit - stood 5 feet 1 inch tall and was recognizable by her full head of auburn hair and fine tailoring.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | April 19, 2002
Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit is about a marriage in which the vow "Till death do us part" does not apply. Written during the London Blitz, the play is Coward's light comedy about death. But though director Tim Vasen's production at Center Stage contains some sparkling moments, it's mostly a serviceable revival of a work that should be almost continuously effervescent. Coward wrote roles for - or at least modeled after - himself in most of his plays. They're generally identifiable by the trademark smoking jackets and dressing gowns, which are, in this case, worn by David Adkins as Charles Condomine.
NEWS
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | May 5, 1996
A silk dinner jacket, a martini, a cigarette held at a debonair angle. Smart repartee spoken in an impeccably clipped British accent. Songs with witty lyrics about mad dogs and Englishmen or the dangers of putting your daughter on the stage.They're all identified with Noel Coward -- a man who was and still is the epitome of style for audiences of his sparkling comedies, three of which are playing on area stages.What was the secret of Coward's style? In a word, substance.He was an extremely hard worker who cultivated an air of indolence, a product of the middle classes who was more aristocratic than the aristocrats, and an author of deceptively light drawing-room comedies that are actually about serious emotional subjects.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | April 30, 1996
"Blithe Spirit" is an atypical Noel Coward comedy in two respects. It's highly plotted and its characters are middle -- instead of upper -- class.This may explain why director Kyle Donnelly has brought a kind of stylish sitcom sensibility to Arena Stage's production of this play about a happily married novelist whose affections are suddenly alienated by the appearance of the ghost of his deceased first wife.The sitcom feeling begins with bumping the time period up from the 1940s, when the play was written, to the 1950s, when TV sitcoms came into their own. It is reinforced with music and sound effects -- designed by Timothy Thompson -- ranging from "Bewitched"-style theme music to ominous horror movie chords.
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