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Legend on Stage Alert: Angela Lansbury back in ‘Blithe Spirit’

Legend on Stage Alert: Angela Lansbury back in ‘Blithe Spirit’
December 22, 2014 MICHAEL KNUDSEN
Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit

How can one pass up seeing a true acting legend live on stage? I don’t know about you but once I heard Angela Lansbury would be reprising her Tony award-winning role in the revival of English playwright Noël Coward‘s 1941 play Blithe Spirit (a comedy classic) right here in Los Angeles on its North American tour–my calendar was marked months in advance! Last weekend was Blithe Spirit‘s opening night held at Center Theatre Group‘s Ahmanson Theatre (located at DTLA’s Music Center–now celebrating its 50th anniversary) and the excitement in the air was oh so palpable.

I had the privilege of seeing Ms. Lansbury in the 2009 Broadway revival of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, which I thought was a once in a lifetime opportunity–somehow I’ve now been blessed twice–Ms. Lansbury once again nailed it like the professional she is. This is a woman who has won five Tony Awards, a Golden Globe, a People’s Choice Award plus was nominated for an Oscar three times and eighteen times for an Emmy–not too shabby for a career now entering its seventh decade! At age 89, I seriously don’t know how Angela does it, she has way more energy than I do, I was so thoroughly impressed by her performance as was the entire audience–it was amazing to watch someone so skilled and experienced having everyone in hysterics, she deserves all the accolades!

The play itself is hilarious (Mr. Coward [1899-1973] still remains one of the best playwrights of all-time) and centers on a man named Charles (played by Downton Abbey‘s Charles Edwards) and his second wife who decide to hold a séance for entertainment and laughs but then the super eccentric medium Madame Arcati (Lansbury) falls into a deep trance and opens a portal to the other side allowing his deceased first wife Elvira (Jemima Rooper) to materialize as a sassy spirit–who immediately starts to wreak comic havoc and mischief for his new wife Ruth (Charlotte Parry). Of course Ruth is not happy one bit about Elvira’s ghostly presence and tries to get Madame Arcati to send her back … without giving too much away–let’s just say Ruth’s fate takes an unexpected and hilarious twist.

Blithe Spirit is playing now through January 18 (get tickets and pick out your own seats) before it heads up north for a short run in San Francisco. I’m begging everyone–do not miss out on your chance to see Ms. Lansbury bring down the house here in LA with her indelible spirit and unmatched energy–it will be a theatre-going experience you will not soon forget. Sadly, they don’t make actresses quite like Angela Lansbury these days. We can all only hope that at age 89, we’ll still be in our prime while kicking ass just like Angela-may she continue to be blessed (and so damn sprightly-which vitamins does she take?! I must find out!) while entertaining audiences for many more years.

Blithe Spirit

Following the internationally acclaimed sold-out engagements on Broadway and London’s West End, theatre legend, Oscar-recipient and five-time Tony Award® winner Angela Lansbury returns to the stage this winter in her Tony Award-winning role as Madame Arcati, in Michael Blakemore’s revival of Noël Coward’s smash-hit comedy, Blithe Spirit.

Researching for his new novel, Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. While consumed in a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth. Now if he wants his latest marriage to stand a ghost of a chance, he’d better conjure up a solution quickly. One husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air – who will win in Coward’s unworldly comedy?

Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit

PHOTOS | JOAN MARCUS FOR CENTER THEATRE GROUP