Blithe Spirit

By Noel Coward

Directed by Carol Dolphin
February 3 to 19, 2017


Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman WaukeshaNOW

Photos:
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Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Mary Rynders

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Cast 

Jim Baker

Dr. Bradman

Alyssa Falvey

Ruth

Colleen Glatzel

Edith

Jenny Kosek

Elvira

Mark Neufang

Charles

Rebecca Richards

Mme Arcati

Mary Rynders

Mrs. Bradman

Production Staff 

Director

Carol Dolphin

Stage Manager

Pam Seccombe

Master Carpenter

Jeff Smerz

Scenic Designer

Scott Prox

Lighting Designer

Scott Fudali

Sound Designer

Keith Handy

Costume Designer

Sharon Sohner

Properties Designer

Cindy Velcheck

Properties Coordinator

Leah Teske

Properties Run Crew

Bernadette Gundrum

Portrait Artist

Joshua David Atkins

Set Construction Crew

Jennifer Smerz

Waukesha Civic’s ‘Blithe Spirit’ makes for spirited fun

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
Feb. 9, 2017

Noel Coward is one of the most prolific British writers who ever lived. Besides his writing prowess, he also acted, directed, and produced movies and TV shows. Whenever he temporarily lost his popularity, he always reinvented himself. Being reintroduced to one of his most successful comedies, “Blithe Spirit” is indeed a rare treat, and Waukesha Civic, under the astute direction of Carol Dolphin, has gathered a fine cast and crew of designers to deliver this masterpiece of wit and caprice with pizzazz.

The main character, Charles, superbly played by Mark Neufang, is experiencing writer’s block and needs some inspiration, so he invites a clairvoyant, along with a couple of friends, to watch Madame Arcati conduct a séance and work her wonders for their amusement. Both Charles and his wife, Ruth, and their friends, Dr. Bradman and his wife, are highly skeptical of anyone’s having the power to evoke “someone who has passed on.”

It just so happens that Charles’ first wife, Elvira, died seven years earlier, and now he has been married to Ruth for the past five years. They live in affluence with a cook and a maid, the latter of whom offers her own dose of humor to the story. Colleen Glatzel makes her cameo role memorable as Edith.

Madam Arcati, who is masterfully enacted by Rebecca Richards, certainly does her part to make this show a success. Her eccentricities are wonderfully on display.

However, unbeknownst to her while she is in a trance, Elvira, Charles’ first wife, materializes, a fact that only Charles perceives. Now chaos takes center stage via the creepy and feisty presence of wife No. 1, nicely enacted by Jenny Kosek.

Apparently it is easier to call up spirits than to send them back, so the rest of the story involves Elvira’s attempt to ruin Charles’ marriage to Ruth, his very proper, straight-laced second wife (Alyssa Falvey) and take him back to the netherworld with her.

Torn between two temperamental women, poor Charles almost becomes unglued. His doctor friend (Jim Baker) attempts to save him. However, when even Ruth begins to believe that it might be a reality when she sees a vase move from the piano to the mantle by some invisible presence, the theory that Charles is losing his mind becomes a moot interpretation of the situation. Who can solve the problem?

There are many battles to witness, many solutions attempted, and many more strange happenings to behold, right up to and beyond the curtain call. Coward is having fun with us. I can see him still smiling from “the other side.”

Cheers to all those involved in this production, including Scott Prox with his beautiful set, and Sharon Sohner with her spot-on costume choices. It all worked splendidly for our benefit.

Waukesha Civic Theatre makes comedy appear in 'Blithe Spirit'

By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
Feb. 6, 2017

Who doesn't like a good ghost story? And who doesn't love British humor and wit, Noel Coward style?

When you combine the two, you have the classic comedy "Blithe Spirit," now playing at Waukesha Civic Theatre.

Under the expert direction of Carol Dolphin, this show sings with all the delightful dialogue and quirky characters audiences have enjoyed for decades.

The stellar cast handles every clever and challenging bit thrown at it in this thoroughly entertaining show. This is the fourth time I've seen "Blithe Spirit," but none – including one professional performance – have I enjoyed more than this one.

This ensemble cast is utterly comfortable with their Britishness and in their well-to-do surroundings. That's why the chaos created when a ghost joins the Condomine household is even more hilarious.

When the lights fell on the WCT stage, the scene was well set for the hijinks to follow. The set has vibrancy and life with an art deco vibe provided by the bright, sky blue walls, red accent boards and black and white wall art. It is a handsome, spacious set, with a raised bar area, that gives the characters plenty of space to romp. Jeff Smerz is the show's master carpenter, while Scott Prox is the scenic designer.

Ghostly story
The show features Charles Condomine (Mark Neufang), a writer, and his wife, Ruth (Alyssa Falvey). Charles and Ruth decide to throw a little dinner party to which he invites the local psychic, Madame Arcati (Rebecca Richards), to get material for his new book. He also invites his doctor, Dr. Bradman (Jim Baker), and Bradman's wife (Mary Rynders) to take part in the evening's activities.

None of them believe in Arcati, who claims she can conjure up the dead, but all agree it will be fun and exciting to take part in a séance. "I think it's interesting how easily some people allow themselves to be deceived," Ruth says.

No one counts on Arcati's being successful. Yet, she is able to bring back Charles' first wife, Elvira (Jenny Kosek), who "passed over" seven years earlier. The unexpected development plays havoc with Charles and his current wife. Only Charles can see Elvira, so it appears to others that he is going mad.

Coward creates his comedy about death and dying by not investing too much in the characters and by not allowing too much of an emotional attachment to them. And it works so brilliantly.

Cast highlights
Plus, Coward's language is so rich. Words like "beastly" and "supercilious" drip so deliciously from the tongues of the actors in this show, who have mastered British accents, allowing audiences to enjoy Coward's cleverness and artful language to the fullest.

The foundation for the play are the performances of Neufang and Falvey, both in very demanding roles, both handled beautifully.

Falvey's Ruth has to run a gamut of emotions, all while maintaining a proper British attitude. I love how she and Rynders' Mrs. Bradman exchange excited, girlish glances as the séance is beginning, and giggle nervously at the strange occurrences. She is properly English throughout, even during her fits of rage.

Neufang's Charles is an exhausting role and so much fun to watch when it's done well, as it is here. Neufang is like a pinball, bouncing between Charles' difficult conversations with his deceased wife and his very-much-alive wife, reaching fever pitches of exasperation, irritation and consternation.

"Surely even an ectoplasmic manifestation has a right to expect a little of the milk of human kindness," he moans.

As a couple, Neufang and Falvey couldn't be better. They look great together, move about their swank abode with certainty, and carry on marvelous repartee.

While Charles and Ruth are the canvas, it is Richards' psychic that brings the splashes of color to the play. Her Arcati is most confident in her abilities, revels in her successes and is quite serious about the psychic world. Richards really engages the audience, often facing them for mood-inducing dances that really draw them in to her character. She has great comic timing and, in her colorful, flowing togs, glides like a sailboat across the stage. You can feel her excitement when she learns she has been successful in bringing back a ghost. "A triumph," she cries. "A genuine materialization."

Kosek's Elvira is also a treat to watch. Elvira floats among the living in her ethereal gray gown, draping herself over furniture and casting out caustic one-liners like darts.

Colleen Glatzel as the maid Edith gets a lot of comic mileage out of the small role. Glatzel is delightful as the nervous, overly conscientious servant. The scene in which she is hypnotized by Arcati is hilarious with Glatzel's wide-eyed wonder and Cockney accent.

Director Dolphin has elicited consistent characters who handle the British accents and mannerisms to the level of professional quality throughout the cast. Also appreciated were the absence of announcements before the show, the apt choice of scene change music and efficient set changes.

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Mary Rynders

Mary was a terrific asset to this production. In addition to her role as Mrs. Bradman, she was willing to help in any way possible. She provided rides to other cast members, helped with costumes and props, and pitched in backstage with costume changes and props management.

Congratulations, Mary, and thank you for all you do!