There’s a Noel Coward song that opens with the line “I’ve been to a marvelous party,” and that’s the feeling I had exiting the effervescent new Broadway production of his “Blithe Spirit.” It’s simply the most outright fun I’ve had in the theatre in quite some time.
The story centers on ferociously witty novelist Charles, played to dapper perfection by out heartthrob Rupert Everett. He’s haunted by his equally witty—and troublemaking—deceased first wife Elvira, played with wicked energy by Christine Ebersole, looking gorgeous as always in period costume.
“Blithe Spirit” is Ebersole’s first return to Broadway after her already-legendary Tony winning performance in “Grey Gardens.” This is a suitably light follow-up to that shattering performance, and she is pitch-perfect as a chattering yet elegant ghost.
Because, you see, this production is all about brilliant casting. Even the maid Edith is played by a star of sorts, Susan Louise O’Connor, much-loved by followers of Off-Off-Broadway. She’s a brilliant physical comedian, and gets some of the shows biggest laughs from the simplest movements.
And how could there be a better Madame Arcati than Angela Lansbury. Sure, she misses the occasional line (and who doesn’t, playing Coward—comedy is hard, and this is top-flight verbal comedy), but her commitment to this dotty, sentimental medium is total. She’s very nearly as nimble as O’Connor, and zeroes in on Arcati’s very real love of all things grand and mysterious; such a pleasure to watch.
And so is this whole thing! I insist that you see this, you’ll have the gayest old time!