Noël Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit at Capital Repertory Theatre, April 6–May 6
Already extended for a full week by popular demand!
ALBANY, N.Y.—MARCH 26, 2018—“There was a pile of virgin paper on my left and a box of carbons on my right … I fixed the paper into the machine and started. Blithe Spirit. A Light Comedy in Three Acts.”
Noël Coward makes it sound so easy, and, in fact, he finished his most famous play, which has been in almost constant production for nearly 60 years, in only six days.
Blithe Spirit remains a classic, simply because it’s so droll, witty and uproarious.
Capital Repertory Theatre’s take on the iconic ghost story begins previews Friday, April 6, opening 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in a staging led by Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill. The show, already extended by a full week due to popular demand, runs through May 6.
Mancinelli-Cahill has assembled a killer cast, featuring three of the region’s top Equity actresses—Yvonne Perry, Brenny Rabine and Eileen Schuyler—working together on stage for the first time.
Perry plays the title role, a sassy haint named Elvira, seven years gone and dead set on shaking up the life of her widowed husband, Charles Condomine.
As befits Coward, Condomine is a stuffy author in search of inspiration. When he hires the eccentric medium Madame Arcati to conduct a séance at his house, all hell breaks loose. But only he can see Elvira, leading his current wife, Ruth, to question his sanity as well as his intentions.
“I’m enchanted by how funny this play is,” says Mancinelli-Cahill. “Sir Noël is, in some ways, taken for granted in the theatre world. Coward believed that what he could do for people was to give them enjoyment, pure and simple.”
“His language is absolutely wonderful to listen to, and he knows how to tell a joke and how to tell a story.”
Broadway and TV star Gary Lindemann, loved by theREP’s audiences for comedic roles as The Old Man in A Christmas Story: The Musical and Harry in Mamma Mia! returns to play Charles.
“He’s such a charming everyman,” says Mancinelli-Cahill, “and that’s not something you can say about just any actor. That’s why I cast him, and I always look forward to working with him onstage.”
Perry—with an extensive resume in film and TV— has done considerable work at theREP, including stints in The God Game, Naked Influence, The Sisters Rosensweig, A Christmas Story and Intimate Apparel. As a teaching artist, she has worked with students throughout the region on making a life in the theatre, “and I consider her a role model for young people,” says Mancinelli-Cahill.
Rabine portrays Ruth, all British primness and stiff upper lip! But you’d be uptight, too, if you were battling another woman you couldn’t even see. Rabine, a presence at theREP in Other Desert Cities, God of Carnage, Boston Marriage and To Kill a Mockingbird, received her Equity union card through the North Pearl Street venue and has gone on to a diverse career in regional theatre and off-Broadway.
Schuyler, artistic director of Theatre Voices of Albany, doesn’t just play Madame Arcati—according to Mancinelli-Cahill, she owns the role.
“If there’s a better Madame Arcati in the world, I don’t know her!” she cries. “Eileen just attacks the part, which is one of the indelible characters in the modern canon. She unleashes havoc in such a delightful way.”
Recent roles for Schuyler at theREP include 4000 Miles, 33 Variations and Hamlet.
Mancinelli-Cahill notes that Coward wrote the play in 1941, during what is often called England’s “darkest hour.”
“One of the things I most admire about him is that had the spirit of a true patriot. He was smart, erudite, such a raconteur and a fabulous cabaret performer. By creating Blithe Spirit, he knew he could lift the shadowed spirits of his people.”
“We hope to lift yours, too. Come see the show and laugh!”
The cast for Blithe Spirit at theREP is completed by On-The-Go! and NEXT ACT vet Kelsey Torstveit as maid Edith; New York State Theatre Institute stalwart John Romeo as Dr. Bradman; and recent Manhattan transplant Elisabeth Henry as Mrs. Bradman. Romeo and Henry are both making their downtown debuts in Blithe Spirit.
The production team for Blithe Spirit includes Costume Designer Howard Kaplan, Lighting Designer Travis McHale, Scenic Designer Brian Prather and Sound Designer Ryder Q. Stanton.
Preview performances for Blithe Spirit take place April 6–8. Opening night is Tuesday, April 10. Regular performances continue through Sunday, May 6. Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday—with matinees 3 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; and 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl Street, Albany. Tickets range from $20 to $62.50. Students with valid ID: $16 all shows. For tickets and information, call Tickets by Proctors, 518.445.SHOW (7469) or visit capitalrep.org.
Opening night includes live music from Zan Strumfeld in the café at 6:30 p.m., and complimentary post-show champagne and dessert from Bella Napoli Bakery. The Chef’s Table performance, on Tuesday, April 17, includes live Noël Coward numbers from Songs to Amuse (Byron Nilsson and Malcolm Kogut), and complimentary hors d’oeuvres for ticketholders from Yono’s/dp An American Brasserie, in the lobby, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Complimentary tarot card and psychometry readings will be available to ticketholders prior to the April 13, April 20, April 27, and May 4 performances from 6:30–7:45 p.m.
Readings of classics ghost stories by Story Circle members Kelvin Keraga (A.E. Coppard’s “Adam and Eve Pinch Me”) and Siri Allison (Richard Middleton’s “The Ghost-Ship”) will preface the evening performance, free to the public, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. Discussions with representatives from Blithe Spirit follow the evening performance for ticketholders on Wednesday, April 25.
The Sunday, April 29 matinee is preceded by a Behind-the-Scenes event, which features complimentary light breakfast fare for ticketholders, and discussion led by theREP’s Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill. Food service begins at 12:30 p.m., with the presentation following from 1–1:30 p.m.
Blithe Spirit is part of the 2017–2018 Bank of America Season at Capital Repertory Theatre, and is sub-sponsored by Eastern Med and Holiday Inn Express.