Théâtre (1941)

Livret: Noël Coward
Production à la création:

Charles Condomine, a successful novelist, wishes to learn about the occult for a novel he is writing, and he arranges for an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his house. At the séance, she inadvertently summons Charles's first wife, Elvira, who has been dead for seven years. Madame Arcati leaves after the séance, unaware that she has summoned Elvira. Only Charles can see or hear Elvira, and his second wife, Ruth, does not believe that Elvira exists until a floating vase is handed to her out of thin air. Elvira is louche and moody, in contrast to the more strait-laced Ruth. The ghostly Elvira makes continued, and increasingly desperate, efforts to disrupt Charles's current marriage. She finally sabotages his car in the hope of killing him so that he will join her in the spirit world, but it is Ruth rather than Charles who drives off and is killed.

Ruth's ghost immediately comes back for revenge on Elvira, and though Charles cannot at first see Ruth, he can see that Elvira is being chased and tormented, and his house is in uproar. He calls Madame Arcati back to exorcise both of the spirits, but instead of banishing them she unintentionally materialises Ruth. With both his dead wives now fully visible, and neither of them in the best of tempers, Charles, together with Madame Arcati, goes through séance after séance and spell after spell to try to exorcise them. It is not until Madame Arcati works out that the housemaid, Edith, is psychic and had unwittingly been the conduit through which Elvira was summoned that she succeeds in dematerialising both ghosts. Charles is left seemingly in peace, but Madame Arcati, hinting that the ghosts may still be around unseen, warns him that he should go far away as soon as possible. Coward repeats one of his signature theatrical devices at the end of the play, where the central character tiptoes out as the curtain falls – a device that he also used in Present Laughter, Private Lives and Hay Fever.[5] Charles leaves at once, and the unseen ghosts throw things and destroy the room as soon as he has gone. (In the David Lean film version, the ghosts thwart Charles's attempt to escape, and his car is again sabotaged; he crashes and joins them as a ghost, with Elvira at one arm and Ruth at the other.)

The play was first produced at the Manchester Opera House in June 1941, and then premiered in the West End at the Piccadilly Theatre on 2 July 1941, later transferring to the St James's Theatre and then the Duchess Theatre, for a total of 1,997 performances. It was directed by Coward; sets and costumes were designed by Gladys Calthrop.[9] During the run Beryl Measor took over as Madame Arcati and Irene Browne took over the role of Ruth. When the play transferred from the Piccadilly to the St James's in 1942, Coward took over the role of Charles for a time. The run set a record for non-musical plays in the West End that was not surpassed until 1957 by The Mousetrap.

The Broadway premiere was on 5 November 1941 at the Morosco Theatre in a production staged by John C. Wilson and designed by Stewart Chaney. In the cast were Clifton Webb as Charles, Peggy Wood as Ruth, Leonora Corbett as Elvira and Mildred Natwick as Madame Arcati. The play transferred to the Booth Theatre on 18 May 1942; it ran for a total of 657 performances. Coward starred as Charles in a wartime UK touring company, beginning in September 1942, with Joyce Carey as Ruth, Judy Campbell as Elvira and Molly Johnson as Madame Arcati. Dennis Price covered for Coward when the latter was taken ill. Another wartime touring company, run by ENSA, toured the Far East in 1945, headed by John Gielgud, who directed, and played Charles.

1970s and '80s
In July 1970, the play was revived in the West End at the Globe Theatre, starring Patrick Cargill as Charles, Phyllis Calvert as Ruth, Amanda Reiss as Elvira and Beryl Reid as Madame Arcati; it ran until January 1971. It was then revived by the National Theatre in 1976, in a production directed by Harold Pinter, starring Richard Johnson as Charles, Rowena Cooper as Ruth, Maria Aitken as Elvira and Elizabeth Spriggs as Madame Arcati. Another London revival played in 1986 at the Vaudeville Theatre, starring Simon Cadell as Charles, Jane Asher as Ruth, Joanna Lumley as Elvira and Marcia Warren as Madame Arcati.

Blithe Spirit was revived on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on 31 March 1987 in a production directed by Brian Murray. It starred Richard Chamberlain as Charles, Judith Ivey as Ruth, Blythe Danner as Elvira and Geraldine Page as Madame Arcati. It ran for 104 performances. Page, who received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress, died of a heart attack during the run; Patricia Conolly succeeded her in the role.

In 2002 the play was given a short production at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, with Daniel Gerroll, who also directed, as Charles, Patricia Kalember as Ruth, Twiggy as Elvira and Dana Ivey as Madame Arcati.[21] The piece was back in the West End at the Savoy Theatre in 2004, in a production directed by Thea Sharrock, starring Aden Gillett as Charles, Joanna Riding as Ruth, Amanda Drew as Elvira and Penelope Keith (succeeded by Stephanie Cole) as Madame Arcati.

A Broadway revival played in 2009 at the Shubert Theatre. Michael Blakemore directed, with Rupert Everett as Charles, Jayne Atkinson as Ruth, Christine Ebersole as Elvira, Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati and Simon Jones as Dr Bradman. The New York Times found the revival somewhat uneven, calling the opening performance "bumpy", but praised Lansbury's performance.[n 1]

Sharrock directed a revival of her production of the play, which started as a UK tour and then moved to the Apollo Theatre, London. It ran there from March to June 2011, with a cast including Robert Bathurst as Charles, Hermione Norris as Ruth, Ruthie Henshall as Elvira and Alison Steadman as Madame Arcati.

A West End production, directed by Blakemore, opened at the Gielgud Theatre in March 2014, with Charles Edwards as Charles, Janie Dee as Ruth, Jemima Rooper as Elvira and Lansbury as Madame Arcati, and Jones as Dr Bradman as in Blakemore's 2009 Broadway production. It ran until June. A revival, again directed by Blakemore with most of the West End cast (including Lansbury at age 89) except Charlotte Parry as Ruth, toured North America from December 2014 to March 2015, visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington D.C..

Charles Condomine – Cecil Parker
Ruth Condomine, his second wife – Fay Compton
Elvira Condomine, his first wife and ghostly presence – Kay Hammond
Madame Arcati, a medium – Margaret Rutherford
Doctor Bradman, a friend – Martin Lewis
Mrs Bradman, his wife – Moya Nugent
Edith, a maid – Ruth Reeves

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Blithe Spirit

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Blithe Spirit

Version 1

Blithe Spirit (1076-06-Lyttelton Theatre-NT-London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: National Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Salle : Lyttelton Theatre
Durée : 7 mois
Nombre : 65 représentations
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première: 19 June 1976
Dernière: 15 January 1977
Mise en scène : Harold Pinter
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :

Version 2

Blithe Spirit (1076-06-Olivier Theatre-NT-London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: National Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Salle : Olivier Theatre
Durée : 3 mois 2 semaines
Nombre : 23 représentations
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première: 09 February 1977
Dernière: 28 May 1977
Mise en scène : Harold Pinter
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Commentaires : Reprise du spectacle présenté l'année précédente dans le Lyttelton Theatre du même NT.

Version 3

Blithe Spirit (2011-03-Apollo Theatre-London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Apollo Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 3 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : 02 March 2011
Première: 09 March 2011
Dernière: 18 June 2011
Mise en scène : Thea Sharrock
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Alison Steadman (Madame Arcati), Hermione Norris (Ruth Condomine), Robert Bathurst (Charles Condomine), Ruthie Henshall (Elvira)
Commentaires : In this production of Blithe Spirit, Madame Arcati is played by Alison Steadman, a Laurence Olivier Award-winning actress who was last seen in the West End in Alan Bennett's Enjoy. Her many screen appearances include the Mike Leigh films Abigail's Party, Topsy Turvy and Life Is Sweet, as well as the sitcomes Fat Friends and Gavin And Stacey.

Version 4

Blithe Spirit (2014-03-Gielgud Theatre-London)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Gielgud Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 2 mois 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : 01 March 2014
Première: 16 March 2014
Dernière: 07 June 2014
Mise en scène : Michael Blakemore
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Angela Lansbury (Madame Arcati), Janie Dee (Ruth), Charles Edwards (Charles Condomine), Jemima Rooper (Elvira), Simon Jones (Doctor George Bradman), Patsy Ferran (Edith), Serena Evans (Mrs Bradman)
Presse : "Angela Lansbury is on sparkling form in Blithe Spirit, one of Noël Coward’s most inventive comedies." Charles Spencer for The Telegraph

"The bickering menage a trois is exceptionally well played here. Charles Edwards beautifully captures the supercilious suavity of the novelist who is knocked off balance by the idea that it's his “subconscious” which has summoned Elvira...." Paul Taylor for The Independent

"Even if Lansbury's voice seems on a different level from that of her colleagues, it is a perfectly credible performance. The real star of the show, however, is Charles Edwards as the novelist-hero." Michael Billington for The Guardian

"Angela Lansbury’s return to the West End, after an absence of nearly 40 years, is something to treasure...Whenever she’s onstage there is a happy mix of substance and scene-stealing: she captures the character’s self-importance but also her frivolity." Henry Hitchings for The Evening Standard

Version 5

Blithe Spirit (2020-04-Duke of Yorks Theatre-London)

Type de série: West End Transfer
Théâtre: Duke of Yorks Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 1 mois
Nombre :
Première Preview : 05 March 2020
Première: 10 March 2020
Dernière: 11 April 2020
Mise en scène : Richard Eyre
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Jennifer Saunders (Madame Arcati), Geoffrey Streatfeild, Lisa Dillon, Emma Naomi, Simon Coates, Lucy Robinson and Rose Wardlaw
Commentaires : The production premiered at Theatre Royal Bath, to positive reviews including The Stage's Jeremy Brien labelling Saunders' performance "tailor-made for the role of the dotty, but deadly serious, medium", while The Guardian's Clare Brennan adds, '[Saunders'] comic interplay of tensions between real and imaginary is touchingly personified in Jennifer Saunders’s Madame Arcati'. Richard Eyre's production of the play transfers to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre.

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