Seton Catholic’s Drama Program Takes On Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit


Blithe Spirit Poster

Performers practicing for their scene in Blithe Spirit.

Blithe Spirit, An Improbable Farce in Three Acts

Blithe Spirit is a hilarious British comedy written by the incredible, infamous Noël Coward. The time is World War II, the year is 1941. Seeking material for a mystery book he is developing, novelist Charles Condomine invites self-deemed, eccentric medium Madame Arcati to his house in Lympne, Kent, to perform a seance. Charles, his second wife Ruth, and their guests George and Violet Bradman participate in the seance, containing their laughter, all skeptical. When the psychic unknowingly summons the spirit of Charles’ first wife, Elvira, who died seven years back, his home and life are quickly turned for the worst, or the best in Elvira’s perspective. His life becomes chaos as his past wife’s ghost torments both himself and his new wife, Ruth. In desperation, the show becomes a race to get rid of Elvira, before anything deleterious can occur.

Noel Coward released this comic play in 1941, and along with its first stage performance in West End. This show created a new long-run record for a non-musical British play with 1,997 performances. Later that year, the show hit Broadway with 657 performances. In 1945, the show was adapted into a film, and later, adapted into a musical, “High Spirits” in 1964. In the 1950’s and 60’s it was adapted for television and radio. The play have been rightfully revived many times in the 1970’s, 1980’s, 2005, 2009, 2011, and 2014.

This fantastic show has received many positive reviews that it thoroughly deserves. After the first performance in Manchester, The Manchester Guardian said “An odd mixture and not untouched by genius of the sort.” Many of his reviews commented on how odd it is in a sort, but how that fact is what makes it truly amazing. The Times wrote, “Stylistically, it is Coward’s masterpiece, the brute facts of existence.” In 2004, The Daily Telegraph considered, “With Hay Fever and Private Lives, Blithe Spirit strikes me as being one of Coward’s three indisputable comic masterpieces. It is the outrageous frivolity with which Coward treats mortality the makes the piece so bracing.”

“This play is purely for entertainment. There is no moral or deeper meaning. It was written during the very dark days of World War II to rally the spirits of the English people. I think that in today’s society, with so much violence and uncertainty in our lives, we can also appreciate an opportunity to laugh and simply enjoy an improbable comedy” said director Linda Schuerman regarding the show.

The Cast:
Charles Condomine: Caer Barnes
Ruth Condomine: Elizabeth Hennessey
Elvira Condomine: Kendra Brislawn
Madame Arcati: Bridget Kasch
Dr. George Bradman: Eugene Vidales
Violet Bradman: April Pharo
Edith: Rebecca Vu
Stage Manager: Amber Piazza

Under the guidance of director, Linda Schuerman, the cast from Seton Catholic has been working incredibly hard to make this show a success. This show requires a very big change in habit to truly become the characters, as the cast must practice and take up natural RP or Cockney British accents, must learn the rules and the proper protocol of British tea gatherings, and must fully encapsulate the persona and habits of British culture compared to American culture. “Learning the British accents has been really fun and it really allows us to get into character,” said Bridget Kasch (Madame Arcati). In our directors perspective, she said, “I think that this play is a challenge for our actors, because there is a lot of dialogue to memorize. Lots of witty banter, that requires not only memorization but an understanding of what it is to be English, an in depth knowledge of what it was like to live in England during WWII (with it’s bombings, rationing, fear of invasion, national loaf, etc.), and the differences in words and phrasing from we’re used to as Americans. There are also different manners, different ways of moving and relating to each other. Our actors are doing a wonderful job so far, and as they continue to get their lines memorized their roles and the show as a whole will really start coming together.”
As many students have noticed, the production has already arranged the stage set with items and furniture that would likely have been in the Condomine’s living room, where the whole show takes place. Bridget also commented on how “All of the furniture on stage makes the performing arts room so cozy. Although, it is an obstacle course to act in.”

“Participating in a witty British comedy of this caliber allows actors to broaden their repertoire as well as embody a completely different time that the one we currently occupy. The chance to do a classic by Noel Coward is a fantastic opportunity for the school to showcase its progressing dramatic arts as well as demonstrate its capability to take on the challenge of a professional level theatre production,” said Elizabeth Hennessey (Ruth Condomine). This show is a great opportunity for Drama’s soon graduating juniors to have quality, professional material in their repertoire as they soon begin the process of applying to colleges and participating in college theatre arts auditions. This all is exactly why Mrs. Schuerman chose this incredible play for the Spring Production. “I wanted to give some of the advanced acting students more challenging roles to dig into. I also want to expose our drama students to a wide range of repertoire, including all of the classic genres and playwrights. This is a classic comedy by one of England’s most famous playwrights, Noel Coward. It is also important for serious acting students to have a solid RP accent as they go on to college and potentially professional theater.”
“I am hoping that our audiences will enjoy the comic characters and situation, and really listen to the dialogue so that they can pick up on the amazing gift for farce that Noel Coward had.”-Linda Schuerman.

The show will take place the weekend of April 20-22. (Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st at 7:00pm, Sunday the 22nd at 2pm.)

This hilarious, intriguing show surely keeps the audience sitting on the edge of their seat, just waiting to see what will happen next. The plot and the cast are so entrancing that your attention will not go astray. Come see and enjoy the show on April 20-22 and support your fellow schoolmates. You surely will not be disappointed in this excellent revival of an amazing show done by your very own Seton Catholic Drama Program.