Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Than In Spirit: Ebersole Will Be Back On Broadway

More Than In Spirit: Ebersole Will Be Back On Broadway

With the nation, let alone the world, holding its collective breath as our do-nothing Congress apparently has yet to grasp that the entire global economy is on the line, it was a relief to read a welcome message providing some modicum of escape.

Christine Ebersole is returning to the Great White Way in an improbable farce: Blithe Spirit. Ebersole will portray the eponymous ghost named Elvira.

This will mark the second Broadway revival for Noël Coward's three act farce, which made its Rialto debut on the cusp of America's entry into World War II on November 5, 1941. It was a celebrated and -- given the time, no doubt -- a most welcome success that not only lasted 657 performances at both the Morosco Theatre and Booth Theatre, but managed to enjoy a return engagement of another 32 performances at the Morosco with four of its original principals -- Mildred Natwick, Philip Tonge, Clifton Webb and Peggy Wood -- intact. Leonora Corbett portrayed Elvira in the first incarnation, while Haila Stoddard haunted the latter.

The first revival of Blithe Spirit was mounted at the Neil Simon Theatre in March 1987. Under Brian Murray's direction, the production lasted a mere 104 performances. In a bit of serendipitous casting, the production starred Blythe Danner as the Blithe Spirit, alongside such talent as Richard Chamberlain, Judith Ivey and Geraldine Page, who received a Tony nomination.

While the rest of the cast has yet to be announced, Michael Blakemore is set to direct the production that will begin previews on February 26 and open in March at a Shubert Theatre "to be determined."

Any chance I have to enjoy a little mirth during a time of crisis sounds good to me, and even better, I can't wait to see Ebersole perform again. My only question here is this. Whatever did happen to those announced plans to mount Grey Gardens in London?

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 01 October, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

I am uber excited! Seeing Christine in this play will mean that I have seen her in more productions than any other leading lady! Actually, I think she already holds that disctinction with me - 42nd Street, Steel Magnolias and Grey Gardens, of course. Now, I did see Patti in three different productions of Gypsy but I don't think that counts, does it?

At 01 October, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah, Like you, I'm thrilled by this news. Like you, I've had the great fortune to see Christine Ebersole in three productions, but my three are slightly different (The Best Man instead of Steel Magnolias - a role for which I thought she deserved a Tony). Can't wait to see her again.

And I don't think seeing Patti in three different productions of Gypsy counts. Sorry!!

At 01 October, 2008, Blogger Joseph Gomez said...

I've adored BLITHE SPIRIT ever since high school. And to have Ebersole as Elvira is a stroke of brilliant casting.

I love Ebersole but I do have a bit of a bias against her since she took the Tony away from Audra for 110 IN THE SHADE. Not that she wasn't magnificent in GREY... but for the first time in my life, I believe a tie was the way to go. :)

At 01 October, 2008, Blogger Mondschein said...

The 1987 production of Blithe Spirit was the first Broadway play I ever saw - my first trip to NYC. Mr. Chamberlain was in his "I wanna be Rex Harrison! No, really!!" phase (I believe his turn in a tour of My Fair Lady with Melissa Errico followed). Miss Page brought the house down.


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