Sex and the Supernatural: Towne Players of Garner scores another hit with Blithe Spirit
By Robert W. McDowell
The Towne Players of Garner have scored another hit with Blithe Sprit. Selecting and sustaining their British accents splendidly, the Towne Players have created a highly amusing version of Sir Noel Coward's classic 1941 British comedy of sex and the supernatural.
Director Beth Honeycutt not only superbly stages this "Improbably Farce in Three Acts" - which was Coward's favorite among all his plays - on Stephanie Veren's charming set, but Honeycutt also stars as the ghostly title character. She is hilarious as the vexatious and sexy Elvira - the first Mrs. Charles Condomine - who died prematurely seven years ago.
Dressed to thrill in a skimpy black negligee and visible only to her acerbic novelist husband Charles (Jeffrey Nugent), Elvira unexpectedly returns to her country house in Kent, England, during a séance conducted by the bumbling eccentric local village psychic, Madame Arcati (Frances Stanley). Charles is horrified and his domineering second wife, Ruth (Meg Dietrich), finds Elvira's return terribly, terribly inconvenient.
With her arm-waving and whoops and shrieks and overall exuberance, Frances Stanley is a hoot as the irrepressibly high-spirited Madame Arcati. Jeffrey Nugent is very, very good as the urbane but hopelessly henpecked Charles, and Meg Dietrich demonstrates a very stiff upper lip as the disbelieving Ruth.
Rob Smith and Janet Doughty are aces as Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, He is amusing as the stuffy and skeptical physician, and she is cute as a speckled pup as the middle-aged doctor's lively and curious young wife. Kristi Walsh is very funny as the Condomine's galloping maid, Edith; and lighting and sound designer Scott Honeycutt and director Beth Honeycutt's daughter, Arlie, completes the cast as the unseen "control" who delivers messages for Madame Arcati contacts in the spirit world.
Blithe Spirit is not only Coward's best play; it is one of the best community theater productions of the 2001 season. Don't miss it.