With this production of Blithe Spirit by Sir Noël Coward at the Common Ground Theatre in Durham, One Song Productions lives up to the high standards we have come to expect of their efforts. In case you don’t recall, One Song is completely run and operated by high schoolers from the Orange County area. They operate sans adult oversight, and their shows in no way suffer from that remarkable independence.
The ever-popular Blithe Spirit (1941) is a drawing-room comedy, which, in spite of its age, still brings laughter and enjoyment when performed by a spritely and well-rehearsed cast. These energetic young actors are sophisticated enough to find the nuances in this bright British classic, and deliver their lines quickly and with relish, and manage better-than-simply-acceptable British dialects and mannerisms.
Director Sadie Frank and assistant director and stage manager Martine Witt have put a fine cast through their paces, making for a well-rehearsed and very enjoyable entertainment. The theater itself presents a slightly new face, which represents the beginnings of Common Ground Theatre executive director Devra Thomas’ ongoing efforts to improve the general appearance and utility of the black-box theater that has been in business for over 10 years.
Costume designers Marichi Gupta and Nicole Gabriel and make-up designer Abby Weaver capture the period beautifully with their wardrobes and hairs styles. The set is very well done, and looks fresh in its newly painted environment, with appropriate furnishings and decor.
On opening night, Jones Bell as Charles Condomine was suave, urbane, and sure of himself, his performance gaining stature as the play progressed. Elvira, Charles’s first wife, is delightfully played by Grace Siplon, who vamps it up in rich style.
Maddie Wiener is hilarious as the awkward, hesitant maid, Edith, faltering and erring at every turn. Charles’s second wife, Ruth, is played by Faith Jones, whose elegant sophistication and calm demeanor faithfully represents the role.
Michelle Everette romps the stage as Madame Arcati, the overbearing and self-important medium, and her agility is remarkable as she flounces around and spills herself onto the floor. Everette has instinctual comedic timing and the fearlessness a true comic requires.
Harris Middlesworth and Beth Siegling round out this talented cast as Dr. and Mrs. Bradman. Siegling’s grace and pure enjoyment of her role is charming.
For those unable to get to this show, which is only up until Saturday night, Dec 6th, but wish to lend support to these young people whose work is so outstanding, we recommend you watch for their upcoming winter show Mr. Marmalade.
One Song Productions presents BLITHE SPIRIT at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.
TICKETS: $8-$10 suggested donation.
BOX OFFICE: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOW: http://cgtheatre.com/events and https://www.facebook.com/events/823256111050023/.
2014-15 SEASON: http://www.1songproductions.org/current-season.html.
PRESENTER: http://www.1songproductions.org/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Song-Productions/136779861220, and https://twitter.com/onesongtheatre.
VENUE: http://www.cgtheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/cgtheatre, and https://twitter.com/CGTheatre919.
Blithe Spirit: An Improbable Farce in Three Acts (1941 comedy): http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=2087 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blithe_Spirit_%28play%29 (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/Blithe/blithe.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Sir Noël Coward (English playwright and composer, 1899-1973): http://www.noelcoward.net/ (The Noël Coward Society), http://www.noelcoward.com/ (The World of Noël Coward), http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/Blithe/blitheplaywright.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival), http://www.musicals101.com/noel.htm (“Noël Coward 101” from the Cyber Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre, Television and Film, compiled by John Kenrick), http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=36502 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002021 (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No%C3%ABl_Coward (Wikipedia).
Sadie Frank (director): https://www.facebook.com/sadie.frank (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.