The second show of The Players 106th season is "Blithe Spirit" by Noel Coward. The show was written in 1941 to take Britain's mind off the bombing of their country by the German air force. It ran for 1,997 performances and is an otherworldly comedy about urbane writer Charles Condomine, and his playfully sarcastic second wife, Ruth. Charles invites a local eccentric medium, Madame Arcati to his home to conduct a seance, in an effort to expose her as a fake and gather material for a new book that he is writing about a homicidal medium. When Madame Arcati accidentally causes Charles' dead first wife, Elvira to materialize, havoc ensues, as Elvira decides she desperately wants Charles back causing a battle of wits and will with Ruth. Throw in a doctor and his wife as well as a dippy, half-witted maid and you have the ingredients for the madcap farce that follows.
Veteran director Joan Dillenback blocks and cast her show excellently with topnotch performers. She keeps the show in the 1940's and uses music from that era in her show. The terrific set is by Dan Clement with lovely 1940's costumes by Judy Bowden especially impressive is Elvira's sepia outfit. The set is rigged to fall apart when Charles leaves his home for good and that is a very impressive moment indeed. Leading this cast as Charles is Paul Kandarian who has over 700 lines. He is marvelous in this role and has excellent chemistry with his fellow performers. Paul delivers his lines with high energy and makes the comic lines standout in this huge part. Becky Minard is fantastic as the put upon wife, Ruth who has to adjust to living with a spirit that she can't see or hear. Ruth eventually gets caught up in Elvira's web of deceit. Becky's biting delivery of her lines is topnotch as Ruth contends with Elvira's crazy antics. Angie Margiotta plays the mischievous, Elvira clad in a sepia toned outfit. She oozes sex appeal as she returns to claim Charles as her own. Angie gets to throw things, turn on the gramophone and loves scaring Ruth who can't see her, winning many laughs with her wild shenanigans.
The biggest scene stealer in this show is Carol Varden as Madame Arcati. She claims to be a psychic, but is she really? Carol steals many a scene as she screams, yells, faints and conducts seances to help Charles get rid of Elvira. She drains a couple of martinis and eats cucumber sandwiches with hilarious results. Carol has many funny lines and makes them hit pay dirt. Peter Kerwin and Carole Collins play Dr. and Mrs. Bradman who witness the first seance when Elvira comes back to life and visit again after Charles and Edith's accidents. They bring an energetic power to their roles. Megan King plays the scatter brained maid who constantly runs back and forth to the kitchen and to answer the door. Megan's comic walk is a hoot and the gramophone scene is funny, too. She displays her voice near the end of the show when she sings "Always" to help Madame Arcati during a seance. So for a fun filled trip back to the 1940's, be sure to catch "Blithe Spirit" at the Players. It is a superb rendition of this show. To join the theater club, just give Bill Applegate a call. I directed this show back in 1981 and in 2006, enjoying many laughs doing them.