What could possibly go wrong when Charles Condomine’s two wives — one living and the other most certainly a ghost — are attempting to stay in the same house with him? The cast and crew of one of iconic playwright Noël Coward’s most popular and beloved comedies will attempt to resolve the complicated relationship in Pitt State Theatre’s production of “Blithe Spirit.”
The performance will take place Oct. 19-22 in the Miller Theater at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts at Pittsburg State University. Tickets are on sale now.
Charles (played by Stirling Luckey of Milwaukee, Wisconsin), is a successful novelist who needs inspiration for his latest book, so he and his wife Ruth (Mia Garrett of Paola) invite the eccentric medium Madame Arcati (Natalie Rigdon of Linwood) to their house for dinner.
The evening quickly takes a supernatural turn when the ghost of Charles’ dead first wife, Elvira (Annabella Beachner of St. Paul), is accidently summoned.
Unfortunately, the Condomine’s friends, Dr. and Mrs. Bradman (Jerry Middleton of Parsons and Charlee Shrader of Shawnee), and their maid, Edith (Melissa Sollne of Mililani, Hawaii), are subjected to comedic misunderstandings, displays of mischief and jealousy, and a lot of unfinished business.
How far will they go to exorcize the troublesome spook?
Coward, who wrote the play at the height of World War II while Londoners were enduring the Blitz, intended to write a “superficial comedy about a ghost” and called Blithe Spirit “an improbable farce.”
“In the play, there is no mention of what was happening because Coward wrote it as a happy diversion from the terrors of war and the harsh realities of life,” said Director Megan Westhoff, assistant professor of Communication.
He knew the need for laughter was more urgent in challenging times, and his sharp and biting comedy still connects with audiences more than 80 years later.
“It’s the 50th anniversary of Coward’s death, so it feels fitting to introduce or reintroduce him to audiences,” Westhoff said. “Without his comedic writing talents, there would not be contemporary farces like Noises Off, Clue, or The Play That Goes Wrong.”
The production staff includes Linden Little, scenic and lighting designer, and Lisa Quinteros, costume designer. Stage managers are Korah Calvin (Gardner) and Ryan Bennett (Overland Park).
“The Pitt State Theatre program is incredibly lucky to have a diverse group of creative people bringing theatre to life,” said Westhoff.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19-21 and 2 p.m. October 21-22. Tickets are $14 for the general public, $9 for under 17 or over 64, and free to PSU students, faculty, and staff with a valid PSU photo ID.
Tickets are available through the PSU Ticket Office in 137 Weede Physical Education Building, or by calling 620-235-4796, or at pittstate.edu/tickets. They may be purchased at the door approximately 30 minutes prior to curtain based on availability.
For the 2023-24 season, Pitt State Theatre is partnering with affiliated organizations of Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas. During the run of Blithe Spirit, donations will be collected for Baby4Baby, which provides clothing to children 0-5 years old.
Items of greatest need are socks (birth to 5 years), underwear (3-5 years), bibs, and burp cloths.
“Theatre audiences are eager to support the Pittsburg community and we are appreciative of the donations to be collected,” Westhoff said.
— Media release from Pittsburg State University —