Blithe Spirit
Oct. 17-20 & 23-27, 2013
Directed by Heather E. Hamilton
Scene Design by Kate Kanne
Costume Design by Catherine Schmeal-Swope
Lighting Design by Ethan Hanson
Sound Design by George E. Grubb

Blithe 1
Elvira Condomine (Amanda Forman) and Charles (Carter Allen) Condomine get
into fisticuffs over her appearance after she's dead.

Blithe 2
The current Mrs. Condomine, Ruth (Morgan LeClaire), is
not aware of her predecessor's appearance.

Blithe 3
The Condomines are already having problems with their
maid, Edith (Maria Camila Perez) before things start
falling apart.

Blithe 4
But things get worse when Madame Arcati (Kaelea Rovinsky) arrives.

Blithe 4.5
She immediately begins "spooking" Dr. and Mrs. Bradman
(TS McCormick and Kristin Boeshans).

Blithe 5
The seance Madame Arcati holds...

Blithe 5
...goes terribly awry.

Blithe 8
And ends terribly.


Charles Condomine, a mediocre novelist, summons a medium to his hime to study "the techniques" of spiritualists
for his new book. Along with Ruth, his second wife, and Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, close friends, he participates in a
seance conducted by Madame Arcati, his chosen medium. Madame Arcati supplies Charles with more than he
bargained for. She produces a "protoplasmic manifestation" in the form of Elvira, Charles's deceased first wife whom
only he (and the audience) can see and hear. With farce and wit unleashed, playwright Noel Coward presents us
with some of his best comic characters in a situation full of spirits and satire.

Synopsis taken from the Denver Center Theatre Company publication Inside Out, March 2004.

Read a more complete synopsis from the Utah Shakespeare Festival (WARNING! SPOILER ALERT!):

Blithe Spirit pub 2
Ruth (Morgan LeClaire, seated) and Charles (Carter Allen) Condomine
look aghast as the ghost of Elvira (Amanda Forman) appears.


The time was World War II, the year was 1941. Before Russia and the U.S. joined forces with the allies,
Great Britain was suffering severe casualties and facing German bombing attacks at home. After his London office
and apartment had been destroyed by German bombs, playwright Noel Coward felt the public would want something
amusing and escapist during the dark days of the war. In between his covert operations as a member of the
British Secret Service, Coward wrote Blithe Spirit, a satirical comedy about ghosts. It is said that he wrote the play
in less than a week.

Since its premiere in the West End of London in 1941, Blithe Spirit has also played successfully on Broadway,
and has been adapted for film, television and radio. For her role as Madame Arcati, the eccentric psychic,
Angela Lansbury won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in the 2009 Broadway revival.

—Taken from Blithe Spirit Study Guide produced by the Vertigo Theatre Center in Calgary, Canada.

Read more about the context of the play from the Utah Shakespeare Festival:

Blithe Spirit pub 3
Ruth Condomine (Morgan LeClaire) is threatened by the ghost of Elvira (Amanda Forman).

Photo from


Born in 1899, Noel Coward had become a successful child actor by 1911.  He learned the techniques of
playwriting by first learning the art of performance.

His first play, I'll Leave It to You, was produced in 1920 when Coward was barely 21 years old.  By 1924 he had
achieved notoriety as the author of The Vortex, a lurid study of drug addiction and perverse sex that reflected
the moral turmoil of the 1920s.  Indeed, much of Coward's early work, including Fallen Angels (1925),
produced at The Public Theatre in 1999, explores the sexual and social taboo-breaking of that decade.

After The Vortex, Coward's career as a playwright was assured.  However, he soon abandoned the dark themes
of that play, turning to comedy instead. By the end of his career he had become one of the most prolific and
successful authors of light comedy and farce in the history of English theater.  Among his best-known works
are Hay Fever (1925),Private Lives (1930), Design for Living (1933), and Blithe Spirit (1941).

Coward, an actor as well as a  playwright, often performed in his own plays, and in real life took on a public
persona that closely resembled one of his own characters.  As Sarah Duerden tells us, "the name 'Coward' has
become synonymous with a certain English style: the elegant silk dressing gown, the cigarette holder, charm,
wit, clipped phrases, upper-class accents, and sex appeal."  What gives Coward's work its peculiar flavor is
the way these features of British suavity and social polish are juxtaposed in his plays with the violent and often
absurd behavior produced by his characters’ clamorous sexual desires and their irrational emotions of jealousy,
anger, and spite.  Out of this conflict between cool manners and the hot-blooded madness of passion arises the
essential comedy of Coward.

—Taken from Blithe Spirit, A Study Guide, by Martin Andrucki, 2001.

Read more from this study guide here:

The Secret Life of Noel Coward:


Read an article from the Stratford Festival:

Read more from the Utah Shakespeare Festival:

The latest gossip! Angela Lansbury may reprise her role as Madam Arcati in London!