Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Can Ebersole lift Broadway's spirits?

The first cast member has been announced for next spring's Broadway revival of Noel Coward's 1941 farce Blithe Spirit, about a socialite haunted by the ghost of his first wife. Christine Ebersole has snagged role of sexy Elvira, who causes all sorts of mischief after a seance summons her from the spirit world. The first preview is scheduled for Feb. 26.

I'm usually pretty excited when I hear about plans for a new Broadway show, but I was pretty indifferent about this one. I saw Blithe Spirit earlier this year at Trinity Rep. While it was a fine production, it left me bored at times. A little witty banter goes a long way, after all. Or perhaps, drawing-room comedies simply aren't my cup of tea.

Now, I like Christine Ebersole and I'm sure she'll be great and her participation piques my curiosity. Maybe she'll bring a spark to the play that I felt was missing in the production that I saw. But what would really put this on my list of must-see shows is that according to Variety, Angela Lansbury (and Rupert Everett) are on the producers' wish list.

No offense to Mr. Everett, but I loved Miss Lansbury's performance in Deuce, not to mention that she's my favorite Mrs. Lovett of the three I've seen on stage and screen. I'd jump at the chance to see her on Broadway again. Although, I thought she said Deuce would be her last Broadway role, so I'm not really holding out any hope.

But the larger question is - why another revival? I wish the producers had found a new play they wanted to bring to Broadway. So far, things are pretty slim: To Be or Not to Be and Dividing the Estate, which begins previews Oct. 23. I checked Playbill's list of upcoming shows, and there's Neil LaBute's Reasons to be Pretty and Michael Jacobs' Impressionism. (With Jeremy Irons!) Am I missing something?

Okay, I understand, it's hard to attract investors - and an audience - for a new play, especially a drama, especially at a time when Wall Street is imploding. Perhaps Blithe Spirit's humor, which helped raise the spirits of the British people during World War II, is just the thing Broadway needs right now.


Robin said...

Someone I know was hoping to get Ms. Ebersole as Mrs. Lovett for his concert Sweeney Todd March 6 + 7. That looks less likely now, I guess! (But wouldn't she be interesting?)

And I know what you mean -- I actually love Noel Coward, but Blithe Spirit isn't my favorite. Present Laughter or Design for Living for me.

You've been in my bloglines reader for some months now, and I enjoy reading your thoughts. Thanks!

Esther said...

Well thanks for the comment and for reading my blog. I really appreciate it.

Yeah, it would be very interesting to see Christine Ebersole as Mrs. Lovett. Although Angela Lansbury is still my favorite. She just brought such a great comedic quality to the role.

I haven't seen any other Noel Coward plays. Hopefully I'll have a chance someday. The Blithe Spirit production I saw was perfectly fine and everyone else was laughing hilariously but for some reason it left me a little cold. But maybe with a different cast I'd like it better.