Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Angela Lansbury in BLITHE SPIRIT at National Theatre March 17-29

Photo by Joan Marcus

From our friends at the National Theatre...

Angela Lansbury Reprises Her Tony Award-Winning Performance Following Smash-Hit West End Engagement

Tickets on sale now.

Following the internationally acclaimed production with sold-out engagements on Broadway and London’s West End, television legend, Oscar recipient and five-time Tony Award-winner Angela Lansbury returns to the stage in an exciting North American tour of Noël Coward’s smash-hit comedic play, BLITHE SPIRIT. The tour makes its Washington premiere Tuesday, March 17 through Sunday, March 29 at the National Theatre, where Ms. Lansbury made her first pre-Broadway stage debut nearly 58 years ago to the day in Hotel Paradiso.

Tickets for BLITHE SPIRIT start at $48 plus applicable service charges, and are available at the National Theatre Box Office, online at thenationaldc.com, or by calling (800) 514-3849. Group orders of 10 or more may be placed by calling (855) 486-2516. For more information, call (202) 628-6161.

Returning to the role of Madame Arcati, for which she won her fifth Tony Award in 2009 for Best Featured Actress in a Play, Angela Lansbury (“Murder, She Wrote;” Sweeney Todd; Mame; Gaslight) will be joined by an all-star cast including Charles Edwards as Charles Condomine (“Downton Abbey,” The 39 Steps, Blithe Spirit - 2014 West End revival), Jemima Rooper as Elvira (“The Black Dahlia;” One Man, Two Guvnors; Blithe Spirit - 2014 West End revival), Charlotte Parry as Ruth Condomine (Coram Boy, The Importance of Being Earnest), Simon Jones as Dr. Bradman (“Hitchhiker’s Guide,” The Real Thing, Blithe Spirit - 2009 Broadway revival/2014 West End revival), Susan Louise O’Connor as Edith (“Orange is the New Black,” Blithe Spirit - 2009 Broadway revival) and Sandra Shipley as Mrs. Bradman (Anything Goes, Blithe Spirit - 2009 Broadway revival). The play is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Michael Blakemore (Kiss Me, Kate; Copenhagen).

“During the course of my career, I’ve had the good fortune to play many, many unique and wonderful roles in the movies, on stage and television,” said Ms. Lansbury. “And it is a joy to once again step into the role of Madame Arcati, and bring Noël Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit to wonderful audiences here in North America who have supported me for over seven decades.”

The creative team, led by two-time Tony Award-winner Michael Blakemore, includes scenic and costume designs by Helen Hayes Award-winner Simon Higlett; Angela Lansbury’s costume designs by two-time Tony Award-winner Martin Pakledinaz, and sound design by Olivier Award-winners Ben and Max Ringham.

BLITHE SPIRIT, one of Noël Coward’s most popular comedies, was first seen on Broadway in 1941, the same year it was produced in London where it set British box office records and was the longest running comedy (1,997 performances) until it was eventually surpassed by Boeing-Boeing in the 1970s. The original Broadway production played nearly two years and co-starred Leonora Corbett, Mildred Natwick, Clifton Webb and Peggy Wood. In 1987, it was revived on Broadway in an all-star production with Richard Chamberlain, Blythe Danner, Judith Ivey, and Geraldine Page, in her final Broadway appearance.

The latest revival on Broadway in 2009 was directed by Michael Blakemore and co-starred Angela Lansbury, Jayne Atkinson, Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett, Simon Jones, and Susan Louise O’Connor. Following its critical acclaim and box office success on Broadway, Lansbury returned to the London stage after 40 years to reprise her Tony Award-winning role. Also under the direction of Michael Blakemore and starring Angela Lansbury, the London revival opened at the Gielgud Theatre on March 18, 2014, and co-starred Janie Dee, Serena Evans, Charles Edwards, Patsy Ferran, Simon Jones, and Jemima Rooper.

Coward, in his autobiography, claimed he wrote the play in five days during a holiday. Only two lines of dialogue were removed before its first production in London.

Researching for his new novel, Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. While consumed in a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth. One husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air – who will win in Coward’s otherworldly comedy?

The National Tour of BLITHE SPIRIT began in December 2014 at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. The tour continues on to SHN’s Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco and to Mirvish Productions’ Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. The tour concludes in Washington, where Ms. Lansbury has received such local honors as Signature Theatre’s Sondheim Award in 2010 and the Helen Hayes Awards American Express Tribute in 1990, in addition to being a Kennedy Center honoree in 2000.

The North American tour of BLITHE SPIRIT is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Steve Traxler, Lee Dean, John Frost, Charles Diamond, and Will Trice in association with Ken Davenport, Kathleen K. Johnson, and Jam Theatricals.

For more information, please visit http://www.thenationaldc.com or www.BlitheSpiritThePlay.com.

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About the National Theatre:
Located at 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the National Theatre opened in 1835 and is one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the nation. Over the years, the National has hosted a multitude of memorable events, including the pre-Broadway presentations of the musicals Show Boat; Hello, Dolly!; and West Side Story. Many of the world’s greatest performers have graced the National Theatre stage including Robert Redford, George C. Scott, Will Rogers, Helen Hayes, James Earl Jones, Eartha Kitt, Sir Laurence Olivier, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Katherine Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Ian McKellen, Debbie Reynolds, and Audrey Hepburn. National Theatre Group, a partnership between Jam Theatricals, Ltd. and SMG, oversees the programming for and management of the theater.