STILLWATER, Okla. - Tickets are now on sale for OSU Department of Theatre’s second mainstage production, Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.” The show runs November 12-15 in the Vivia Locke Theatre in the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts.
“Blithe Spirit” gets mounted often on the American and British stage because of its unique brand of sophisticated and outrageous comedy and for the haunting stage effects. The playwright, Noel Coward, is one of Britain’s more prolific writers of the 20th century, and this play is undoubtedly an audience favorite.
The story centers on Charles Condomine, played by senior Paul Knapp, a novelist in 1940s England who is looking for material for his next book. He decides to investigate the supernatural, and invites to his home for a séance the flamboyant and a little crazy Madame Arcati, a self-professed seer and medium, played by senior Kayla Hurd. Also present are Condomine’s second wife Ruth, portrayed by sophomore Allyson Blackshare, and the skeptics Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, played by freshmen Kelton Neals and Shelby Soto. Much to Ruth’s dismay, the séance ends up inviting into her home Charles’s first wife, Elvira, played by freshman Carli Kottke, who passed away several years ago. Hilarity ensues as a love triangle develops and Elvira tries to win back Charles.
Head of Theatre Andrew Kimbrough says that the faculty typically picks a challenging play from a different time period for its November show. “It’s good for our educational mission,” says Kimbrough. “You don’t necessarily see a three-walled set in contemporary theatre, whereas something like the design for ‘Blithe Spirit’ would have been fairly common just two generations ago. Our student designers are learning a lot of practical skills in simply fashioning a luxurious drawing room from the 1940s. The cast is getting immersed in learning an acting style that most cinephiles would recognize in the comedies of Old Hollywood and actors like William Powell and Myrna Loy. It’s going to be a real treat.”
Helming the production is Associate Professor Lloyd Caldwell, who last directed the extremely popular “The 39 Steps” for the OSU Theatre main stage last spring. “Coward presents a special brand of humor, and it’s not easy to pull off,” says Caldwell. “The student performers have to learn to act in a style that is quite different from contemporary realist acting. Not only is there a lot of physical humor, but the quick dialogue is thick with subtle wit and innuendo. Our students are doing a marvelous expanding their abilities and grasping these complex characters. We’re all very proud.”
The Department of Theatre grew this year with the addition of a new faculty member of costume design, Assistant Professor Jeremy Bernardoni. Mr. Bernardoni grew up in the McAlester area and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received an undergraduate degree in French and his MFA in costume design. He’s been designing professionally around the country and in France, and comes to OSU from the University of Arizona, where he has been teaching and designing. “Blithe Spirit” is his first design for the OSU Theatre main stage.
Rounding out the cast is senior Tara Roberts in the very significant role of the maid, Edith, and scenic designer Heidi Hoffer and guest lighting designer from New York City, Michael Cole. As usual students are in key positions assisting the designers and the department’s production manager, Lee Brasuell.
Tickets may be purchased on-line by visiting the department’s website at http://theatre.okstate.edu or by visiting the box office at 121 Seretean Center for the Performing Arts. General admission is $10, students and seniors $7. Performance dates and times are Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 12-14 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinee Nov. 15 at 2:30 p.m. Season tickets are also still on sale and are still a bargain for the remaining shows: $32 general admission, $20 students and seniors. Details and box office information are easily found on the website.
Paul Knapp as Charles Condomine and Kayla Hurd as Madame Arcati in OSU Theatre’s production of Blithe Spirit.