Barbara Walters saw "Dear World"

Angela Lansbury appears on “The View” to promote the fantastic revival of Blithe Spirit (my delayed recount of the opening night is one the way…), discussing much of her career and even recreating the much-discussed interpretive dance that has become one of the highlights of the current theatre season. Enjoy.

Opening Night!

I have returned! To celebrate, I will be taking in the opening night of Blithe Spirit at the Shubert Theatre this evening with Sarah, Roxie and friends. The revival of the famed Noel Coward farce stars Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett and our beloved Angela Lansbury with Jayne Atkinson and Simon Jones under the direction of Michael Blakemore. I am looking forward to this production moreso than any other this season. Angie is taking on the role of the eccentric medium Madame Arcati, a role originated by Margaret Rutherford in London (who preserved it in the film adaptation) and Mildred Natwick on Broadway (who played the part in a 1950s television production that starred Coward, Claudette Colbert and Lauren Bacall). Geraldine Page took on the role in the 1987 revival, with Patricia Conolly taking over after Page’s unexpected death during the run. The 1964 musical version of the piece, High Spirits starred Beatrice Lillie in her final stage appearance as Arcati, with Tammy Grimes and Edward Woodward. The musical, which received a reading with Roundabout last year, isn’t as strong as the original play. However, it’s score is quite enjoyable; containing one of my favorite overtures and favorite eleven o’clock numbers (the bluesy, showstopping “Home Sweet Heaven”).

Quote of the Day: ‘At Large’ Elsewhere

From Peter Filichia’s Diary on 1.30.08:

‘Staying on the subject of the presidency, Bruce Haberkern wrote that “With the events of this month’s Inauguration, it might be a chance to revisit the Bernstein-Lerner unsuccessful musical, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The musical had a lot to do with the black servants’ participation in maintaining the White House, especially in the lyrics of ‘Take Care of this House.’ Today their descendants are actually taking care of that (White) House.”

Kevin Daly mentioned 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, too, and cast Victoria Clark in the Patricia Routledge role should the show ever materialize. (Given the estates’ feelings about the quick flop, that will only happen when the show goes into the public domain.) But Daly came up with an even more fetching idea that really should happen — and could: “Let’s have the upcoming cast of Blithe Spirit present a one-night concert performance of High Spirits for their Actor’s Fund performance.” If it happens, I’m there!’

Hey Bernstein and Lerner estates, let’s talk, shall we?

Home Sweet Heaven

Alright, so it’s not a revival of High Spirits, but I can barely contain my excitement at the idea of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit coming back to Broadway. The 1941 play, about the chaos that ensues when a man’s dead wife is resurrected during a seance, was last seen on Broadway in 1987 starring Richard Chamberlain, Blythe Danner and Geraldine Page.

The revival is going to be directed by Michael Blakemore and it was just announced today that the production is going to star Christine Ebersole as Elvira, the first (deceased) wife. I’ve heard the producers want Angela Lansbury for the role of the eccentric medium Madame Arcati, a role written for Margaret Rutherford (and subsequently played by Mildred Natwick in the original Broadway cast and by Bea Lillie in the musical adaptation, High Spirits in 1964). Lansbury has apparently gone on record saying she wouldn’t take on any more stage roles after the taxing production of Deuce. Let’s hope that producer Jeffrey Richards and Blakemore can convince her otherwise!

Other casting is pending. Any thoughts on who should round out the play?