ANGELA LANSBURY TO MAKE LONG-AWAITED WEST END RETURN IN BLITHE SPIRIT‏

Angela Lansbury pictured as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's 'Blithe Spirit' at the Shubert Theater in New York in 2009
Angela Lansbury pictured as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s ‘Blithe Spirit’ at the Shubert Theater in New York in 2009 / Photo: New York Times

NOËL COWARD’S

BLITHE SPIRIT

DIRECTED BY MICHAEL BLAKEMORE

ANGELA LANSBURY RETURNS TO THE WEST END AND STARS WITH JANIE DEE AND CHARLES EDWARDS

Gielgud Theatre

Saturday 1 March – Saturday 7 June 2014

Press Night: 18 March 2014

Returning to the London stage for the first time in nearly 40 years the inimitable Angela Lansbury reunites with acclaimed director Michael Blakemore to reprise her Tony award- winning Broadway performance as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit.

Opening at the Gielgud Theatre on 18 March 2014, with previews from 1 March, this new production of Noël Coward’s sharp comedy of social mores will also star Janie Dee and Charles Edwards.

In order to observe a spiritualist first-hand for a planned novel, writer Charles Condomine (Charles Edwards) and wife Ruth (Janie Dee) invite friends the Bradmans to dinner and a séance with local clairvoyant Madame Arcati (Angela Lansbury), whom they are certain is a fake.

That all changes when the ghost of his first wife, Elvira is summoned – and overstays her welcome in the following days, causing a rift between Charles and his at first disbelieving and then jealous second wife. The feuding wives, ghost and flesh, hatch plot and counter plot to sabotage each other’s and Charles’ existence but will they succeed?

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Angela Lansbury plays Madame Arcati. Her Broadway performance as Coward’s infamous clairvoyant earned her the 2009 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress and became her fifth Tony Award. Her professional career spans more than a half-century, during which she has flourished, first as a star of motion pictures, then as a Broadway musical star and most recently as the star of Murder, She Wrote. The actress made her Broadway debut in 1957 when she starred as Bert Lahr’s wife in the French farce, Hotel Paradiso.

In 1960, she returned to Broadway as Joan Plowright’s mother in the season’s most acclaimed drama, A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney. One year later, she starred on Broadway in her first musical, Anyone Can Whistle. Lansbury returned to New York in triumph in 1966 as Mame, for which she won the first of her Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical. She received the others as the Madwoman of Chaillott in Dear World (1968), as Mama Rose in the 1974 revival of Gypsy and as Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1979).

From 1984-1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on Murder, She Wrote, for which she won four Golden Globe Awards. In 1982, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and in 1994 she was named a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Angela and her husband Peter were married in 1949. They worked together until Peter’s death in January 2003. Angela has three grown children, Deirdre, Anthony and David, and three grandchildren.

Lansbury was last seen on the London stage playing Gertrude in the National Theatre production of Hamlet in 1975. Prior to that, she starred in the celebrated production of Gypsy at the Piccadilly Theatre and in the RSC production of All Over at The Aldwych.

In November this year Lansbury received an honorary Oscar in recognition of her outstanding 70 years of contribution to the film industry.

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Janie Dee plays Charles’ second wife Ruth. Janie is a multi-award winning actress, singer and musical theatre performer.

Her work on stage has earned her the Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Best Actress Awards for the leading role in Comic Potential in the West End and on Broadway as well as the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for Carousel, directed by Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre.

She has worked extensively with writer and director Alan Ayckbourn, originating the roles of JC 333 in Comic Potential, Joanna in House and Garden and Amanda in Dreams from a Summerhouse and Peter Hall has directed Janie in Much Ado About Nothing, Betrayal and Design For Living.

Lead roles in classic West End musicals include: Cats, My One and Only (Olivier Award Nomination), Mack and Mabel, and audiences outside London have been able to enjoy her performances in many shows including her starring role as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly! at the Curve Theatre, Leicester for which she received a TMA UK Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Musical this year.

She is a leading light in the resurgent cabaret scene and regularly champions new musical theatre writing. Her screen credits include Me and Orson Welles and Harold Pinter: A Celebration. Janie is expanding her film work, this year completing Wild, directed by Vivienne DeCourcy, and Caffiend, opposite Neil Morrissey and written anddirected bySundance FestivalGrand Prize-winner, Gary Walkow.

Recent dramatic roles include: Michael Frayn’s Noises Off at The Old Vic and in the West End, and this year she created the role of Miranda in Lucy Kirkwood’s NSFW at the Royal Court, which earned her a fourth Olivier nomination.

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Charles Edwards plays Charles Condomine, who is married to Ruth his second wife. This appearance brings Charles back to Blithe Spirit as he made his theatrical debut in the play.

Since then his star has continued rise with numerous roles at the National Theatre including: This House, in which he played the persuasive Conservative chief whip Jack Wetherhill and gained a nomination for a Best Actor Evening Standard Award. Other National Theatre performances include Twelfth Night, The Duchess of Malfi, All My Sons and most recently starring in Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude opposite Anne-Marie Duff.

His other theatre credits include Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at The Globe and George V in The King’s Speech, both of which gained him Evening Standard Award Best Actor nominations, as well as Hannay in The 39 Steps in the West End and on Broadway. On television he is best known as Michael Gregson, a wealthy London publisher and suitor of Lady Edith Crawley in the global hit Downton Abbey.

His many other TV roles include Holy Flying Circus, Murder Rooms, opposite the late Ian Richardson and Monarch of the Glen. Film work embraces Philomena starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, the Hollywood blockbuster Batman Begins, and period features such as Mansfield Park and An Ideal Husband.

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Michael Blakemore became the first director to win a Tony Award both for a musical Kiss Me, Kate and a play Copenhagen in the same year, 2000. For Kiss Me, Kate he also won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Michael was Associate Director at The National Theatre where productions included The National Health, Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Front Page, Macbeth, The Cherry Orchard, Plunder, After the Fall and Copenhagen.

Elsewhere: Privates on Parade (RSC); Don’s Party, Widower’s Houses (Royal Court); Make and Break at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre (where he was Resident Director) and Haymarket; Mr Peter’s Connections by Arthur Miller (Almeida). Other West End successes are A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Forget-Me-Not, Design for Living, Knuckle, Separate Tables, All My Sons, Noises Off, Benefactors, Lettice and Lovage, Uncle Vanya, The Sisters Rosenweig.

On Broadway productions include three musicals, the Tony Award-winning City of Angels; The Life, voted best musical of 1997 by the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League; Kiss Me, Kate which received 12 Tony nominationsHe also directed Death Defying Acts, three one-act plays by David Mamet, Elaine May and Woody Allen.

He has written and directed two films, A Personal History of the Australian Surf (Standard Film Award 1982) and Country Life.

His books include a novel, Next Season (1968), still in paperback, and two memoirs, Arguments with England (2004) and recently Stage Blood (Faber & Faber).

Michael has directed Democracy (New York and London); Embers and Three Sisters (London); Deuce, Is He Dead? and Blithe Spirit (Broadway).

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Noël Coward has achieved enduring success as a playwright. Many of his plays are firm favourites in the theatre repertoire and include Private Lives, Hay Fever, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit, which remains one of his most popular comedies. His screenwriting credits include In Which We Serve (which he also co-directed) and Brief Encounter.

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Further cast to be announced.

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Blithe Spirit is produced in the West End by Lee Dean, Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, John Frost, Steve Traxler and Charles Diamond.

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BOX OFFICE INFORMATION

BLITHE SPIRIT

Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6AR

Box office: 0844 482 5130

www.blithespiritlondon.com

Saturday 1 March – Saturday 7 June, 2014

PERFORMANCE TIMES

Monday – Saturday at 7:30pm

Wednesdays (from 26 March) and Saturdays (from 8 March) at 2:30pm

Tickets from £10

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