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Comedy blithely entertaining

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN
Published March 24, 2007


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TARPON SPRINGS - Noel Coward's witty and sophisticated comedy Blithe Spirit was declared a classic the moment it hit the English stage in 1941. It went on to become a critically-lauded movie starring Rex Harrison in 1942.

The Avenue Players Theatre continue their version of the stage favorite through April 1 at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art auditorium on the campus of St. Petersburg College.

"We have had so much fun doing this play," said Diana Forgione, founder and director of the volunteer theater troupe. "Coward's words are so carefully chosen and so artfully put together. They're amazing."

In it, the pompous writer Charles Condomine, played by Steven Gerard, is working on a book about the occult and has invited the famous medium, Madame Arcati (Heidi Belanger), to dinner in hopes in finding out how she manages to fool the public into believing in her power to conjure up the dead.

He and his lovely young wife Ruth, played by Elizabeth Holloway in her Avenue Players debut, invite their friends Dr. and Mrs. Bradman (Rick Kastel and Doris Cerio) over to witness the fun.

To Charles' consternation, Madame Arcati turns out to be the real thing. Instead of conjuring derisive laughs, she inadvertently calls forth Charles' late wife, the sharp-tongued Elvira (Kimen Mitchell).

The problem is, no one but Charles can see Elvira - not even Madame Arcati herself.

The mischievous Elvira, realizing the situation, sets out to wreak havoc between Charles and his wife, who, of course, thinks Charles is speaking harshly to her when he is actually trying to corral the trouble-making Elvira.

This causes all kinds of problems, especially when Ruth begins to suspect that Elvira has something more sinister in mind than simply breaking up Charles's current marriage.

A ticket to the play includes a brief docent-led tour of the museum before the play, refreshments and a discussion of the performance afterwards (time permitting).

Fast Facts:

If you go

What: Blithe Spirit

Where: Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 Klosterman Road

When: 7 p.m. today ; 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and March 31 and April 1

Tickets: $8 for museum members and students; $11 for everyone else. A brief docent-led tour of the museum is held a half-hour before each performance and is included in the ticket price. Tickets go on sale at 6 p.m.

[Last modified March 23, 2007, 23:11:25]


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