Bellevue Little Theatre Presents “Blithe Spirit”

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Writer Charles Condomine and his wife Ruth have invited their friends to a séance with a local clairvoyant, Madame Arcati. Condomine hopes to gather material for a new novel. Instead, Arcati accidentally conjures his jealous late wife, who begins mercilessly haunting Charles. Her efforts to sabotage his second marriage backfire horribly, leading to even more hauntings by . . . well, no spoilers here.
The unusual mix of farce and tragedy shouldn’t work, particularly when it was first produced in the depths of the London Blitz in 1941. Yet in the hands of Noël Coward, “Blithe Spirit” became a comic masterpiece, running for nearly 2,000 performances on the Strand and over 650 on Broadway. Many consider it to be Coward’s greatest work. His script has gone on to movie and television adaptations and multiple stage revivals on both sides of the pond.
The latest local reincarnation of “Blithe Spirit” is the Bellevue Little Theatre’s winter offering. Sherry Fletcher (Edith) remembers Bellevue last produced the play during its 1989-1990 season. “It’s a strange amalgam; Noël Coward’s commentary on contemporary British society.” Therese Rennels (Elvira) agrees. “All of the characters are not very nice, but they are locked into those polite British mannerisms.” They are all courteously nasty to each other, in classic British farce.
Rennels is on her second tour of duty with “Blithe Spirit,” playing Ruth Condomine at the Chanticleer Theater in Council Bluffs under the direction of the legendary Norm Filbert. This time around she plays Charles’ late wife Elvira. “I was thrilled to get the role,” she says. Elvira is not the least bit happy with her husband’s new marriage to Ruth and is hell bent on getting him back. “She’s a pretty naughty ghost,” observes Rennels. And director Todd Uhrmacher “keeps telling me to play more naughty.”
In addition to directing, Todd Uhrmacher is costuming the show. Sherry Fletcher cannot wait. “The costumes are gorgeous.” As is the set, by former Uhrmacher student and current BLT board member Joey Lorincz. The cast also includes Gene Hinkle, Marti Carrington, Ruth Rath, Bart Burroughs, and Phyllis Bonds. “They have been a joy to work with,” says Sherry Fletcher. Make it your New Year’s resolution to see this endearing comedy classic.
“Blithe Spirit” by Noël Coward will run at Bellevue Little Theatre for three consecutive weekends, from January 19 through February 4. Shows are Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30, with Sunday matinees at 2:00. There will be a TAG Nite Out on Thursday, January 18. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $10 for students with proper ID. The Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 West Mission Avenue in Olde Towne Bellevue. Tickets are available by calling the Bellevue Little Theatre Box at 402-291-1554. For more information, call the theater or check out their website at: