Perhaps THE BEST theatrical news that there has been IN MY LIFETIME, it’s impossible for me understate just how exhilarating that I feel this news is, and the lease of life that this should hopefully plough in to the West End.
An exaggeration to many, but it’s genuinely knocked me for six.
Regular readers will know I’m a massive fan of theatre, with reviews making up the bulk of the traffic to this site. Over the past few years I’ve become very disenchanted with the stage and it’s been a whole year since I was last in the West End, making the trip down especially for The Book of Mormon. Since that major theatrical event, I must confess, there has been very little that has enticed me in to making the trip back in to London to spend a small fortune on a theatre ticket… until now!
I first encountered Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at The Royal Exchange, Manchester a few years ago, and fell in love with the play instantly.
Prior to this, back in 2009 when I heard that the absolute legend that is Angela Lansbury was playing Madame Arcati on Broadway, I instantly started searching for prices to visit New York to see that production – the casting just seemed perfect. Alas, I never got to New York, however, that Ms Lansbury has been enticed to do a few months on a London stage is phenomenal and an opportunity absolutely not to be missed in my opinion.
If you’re looking at booking tickets, when I booked yesterday, even after all the press hoo-hah, there was still very good availability left across the run. I’d recommend looking at the official Delfont Mackintosh website (DelMac own the Gielgud Theatre, where this will play out) as a first stop for tickets, but, of course, other ticketing outlets do exist (just make sure that they’re S.T.A.R. members!).
Blithe Spirit will run at the Gielgud Theatre in Spring 2014. Previews commence on 1 March 2014; Opening Night is 18 March and the run continues through to 7 June. Book as soon as you can, as I don’t expect an extension (or at least one with Ms Lansbury, who will be unable to stay on, as she has to return to the US for a wedding). Tickets are £10 cheaper if you go between 1 March 2014 and 13 March 2014, but are pretty reasonable for what you’re getting in my opinion. For full details, please see the production website.
The article which follows is from Playbill.com:
By Mark Shenton
29 Nov 2013
Angela Lansbury is to return to her native West End stage for the first time in nearly 40 years to reprise the role of Madame Arcati in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit that she previously played in a Tony winning performance on Broadway in 2009. It will begin previews March 1, 2014, at the Gielgud Theatre prior to an official opening March 18, for a run that is booking through June 7.
Michael Blakemore will also reprise his directorial duties with a new cast that will also star Janie Dee and Charles Edwards.
In order to observe a spiritualist first-hand for a planned novel, writer Charles Condomine (Edwards) and wife Ruth (Dee) invite friends the Bradmans to dinner and a séance with local clairvoyant Madame Arcati (Lansbury), whom they are certain is a fake. That all changes when the ghost of his first wife, Elvira is summoned – and overstays her welcome in the following days, causing a rift between Charles and his at first disbelieving and then jealous second wife. The feuding wives, ghost and flesh, hatch plot and counter plot to sabotage each other’s and Charles’ existence but will they succeed?
Lansbury, who was born in London in 1925 and is now 88, has spanned films, Broadway and television in a career of over half a century. She her Broadway debut in 1957 when she starred as Bert Lahr’s wife in the French farce Hotel Paradiso. Subsequent Broadway appearances include A Taste of Honey, Anyone Can Whistle, Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd andDeuce. She has won five Tony Awards. She was last seen on the London stage playing Gertrude in the National Theatre production of Hamlet in 1975. Other West End appearances include the British premiere of Gypsy in 1973 and Edward Albee’s All over for the RSC in 1972. From 1984-1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on “Murder, She Wrote,” for which she won four Golden Globe Awards.
Dee won the Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Best Actress Awards for the leading role in Alan Aycbbourn’s Comic Potential in the West End, which she subsequently reprised at New York’s Manhattan Theater Club. She has also worked with Ayckbourn on House and Garden, and Dreams from a Summerhouse. Other West End appearances includeCats, My One and Only, Mack and Mabel and Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. Last year she starred as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! at the Curve Theatre, Leicester for which she received a TMA UK Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Musical, and she also appeared in NSFW at the Royal Court, for which she was Olivier nominated.
Edwards has appeared regularly at the National, including This House, Twelfth NIght, The Duchess of Malfi, All My Sons and Strange Interlude. Other recent credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe and George V in The King’s Speech at Wyndham’s Theatre. He has also starred in The 39 Steps in the West End and on Broadway.
Further cast is still be announced. Blithe Spirit is produced in the West End by Lee Dean, Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, John Frost, Steve Traxler and Charles Diamond.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 482 5130 or visit blithespiritlondon.com for more details.