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Review of Blithe Spirit at the Guthrie Theater, Dec. 2017

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Quote of the Day: I like to cook, and in cooking you put things together and the process yields something that’s different than the ingredients. And I say that comedy is like cooking. It’s best done with generosity and for the benefit of others. To me, the truest comedy comes from a generous heart – not for your own laugh but for the nourishment of the audience. David Ivers, director of the Guthrie Theater’s December 2017 production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, from an interview in the Guthrie Theater’s playbill where dramaturg Carla Steen interviews director David Ivers, Sally Wingert (Madame Arcati) and Suzanne Warmanen (Edith). They, along with the rest of the amazing cast, give generous spirit to this timeless comedy, a great stress reliever at any time, and especially during the holidays.

Suzanne Warmanen (Edith) and Heidi Armbruster (Ruth) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

Suzanne Warmanen (Edith) and Heidi Armbruster (Ruth) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

I started laughing the moment Suzanne Warmanen stumbled onto this amazing set. It’s adorable, delightful, and dangerous. When Charles Condomine (Quinn Mattfield) brings in medium Madame Arcati as research for his book, he gets more material than he bargained for. His deceased wife appears, causing all sorts of mischief.

Amy Warner (Mrs. Bradman), Bob Davis (Dr. Bradman) and Sally Wingert (Madame Arcati) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

Amy Warner (Mrs. Bradman), Bob Davis (Dr. Bradman) and Sally Wingert (Madame Arcati) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

When the tremendously talented Sally Wingert appeared on stage, in this bold and brilliant outfit, the audience applauded. Sally Wingert as Madame Arcati is your gift for this holiday season. Drop everything and go see her brilliant comedic timing, the electrifying chemistry between the cast, and the thrilling theatrics. I dare not say too much about the show because I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises!

Quinn Mattfeld (Charles Condomine) and Sally Wingert (Madame Arcati) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

Quinn Mattfeld (Charles Condomine) and Sally Wingert (Madame Arcati) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

Madame Arcati is the most thrilled to learn that Charles’ deceased wife Elvira (Elia Monte-Brown) has reappeared in his life. Charles’ current wife Ruth is the most displeased, and confused. Their friend Dr. Bradman (Bob Davis) offers a sedative, and his wife (Amy Warner) seems to think the whole thing is delightful. Meanwhile Edith, the maid, flits about causing her own pitfalls. Oh, the joy and wonder of it all!

Elia Monte-Brown (Elvira), Heidi Armbruster (Ruth) and Quinn Mattfeld (Charles Condomine) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

Elia Monte-Brown (Elvira), Heidi Armbruster (Ruth) and Quinn Mattfeld (Charles Condomine) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

I am always fascinated by watching this play because some of the characters can see Elvira, and some can’t. The actors have to be so focused in order to not see her. They move around on the stage like a carefully choreographed dance. I am sometimes holding my breath, then bursting out laughing, and in this spectacular production, opening my mouth in surprise and wonder. Really, you have to see it to believe it … er… or not. All of the creative elements are spectacularly done. Jo Winaiarksi designed this gorgeous set. Meg Neville created these stunning costumes. Xavier Pierce and Scott W. Edwards go all out on their lighting and sound effects. And, of course, the directing and delivery are superb.

Elia Monte-Brown (Elvira), Heidi Armbruster (Ruth) and Quinn Mattfeld (Charles Condomine) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

Elia Monte-Brown (Elvira), Heidi Armbruster (Ruth) and Quinn Mattfeld (Charles Condomine) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward, directed by David Ivers. Scenic design by Jo Winiarski, costume design by Meg Neville, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, sound design by Scott W. Edwards. Photo by Dan Norman.

Enjoy this high-spirited comedy, Blithe Spirit, at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, through January 14, 2018. Give yourself the gift of laughter this holiday season.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever been to a séance? Do you speak to the dearly departed? What would you say to someone who suddenly appeared from the other side?

  1. Wow! The set! The costumes! I have never seen this play, Mary. I’ve only read it. I can see I’m in for a treat. Thank you.

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