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Angela Lansbury to reprise Tony Award-winning performance at the Ahmanson

Angela Lansbury to reprise Tony Award-winning performance at the Ahmanson

Following the internationally acclaimed production with sold-out engagements on Broadway and in London’s West End, television legend, Oscar recipient and five-time Tony Award®-winner Angela Lansbury returns to the stage in Noël Coward’s smash-hit comedic play Blithe Spirit in an exciting North American tour to be launched at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre.

Performances for Blithe Spirit at the Ahmanson begin Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 and run through Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The opening is set for Sunday, Dec. 14.

Following the L.A. engagement, the tour will continue to SHN’s Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco, Jan. 20 through Feb. 1, 2015; Mirvish Productions’ Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, Feb. 10 through March 15, and concludes in Washington, D.C., March 17 through March 29, at the National Theatre where Lansbury made her first pre-Broadway stage debut nearly 58 years ago to the day.

Returning to the role of Madame Arcati, for which she won her fifth Tony Award® in 2009 for Best Featured Actress in a Play, Angela Lansbury (the popular TV show Murder, She Wrote, the memorable stage productions of Sweeney Todd and Mame, the classic film Gaslight) will be joined by an all-star cast including Charles Edwards (PBS’ Downton Abbey, The 39 Steps, Blithe Spirit – 2014 West End revival), Jemima Rooper (the film The Black Dahlia; One Man, Two Guvnors; Blithe Spirit – 2014 West End revival) and Charlotte Parry (_Coram Boy, The Importance of Being Earnest_). The cast also includes Susan Louise O’Connor (W” – 2009 Broadway revival) and Sandra Shipley (“Anything Goes,” Blithe Spirit – 2009 Broadway revival). Additional casting will be announced in the coming days. 

The play is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Michael Blakemore (Kiss Me, Kate, Copenhagen).

“It’s going to be exciting to play Los Angeles for the first time in over 30 years,” Lansbury said.  “I’m delighted to be returning to the Ahmanson Theatre in the role of Madame Arcati in Noël Coward’s wonderfully funny play Blithe Spirit. It is one of the great comedic roles and playing her for a new audience every night is a joy. I can’t think of a better place to start off this tour than with my family and friends here in my own backyard.”

The creative team includes scenic and costume designs by Helen Hayes Award-winner Simon Higlett, Ms. Lansbury’s costume designs by two-time Tony Award®-winner Martin Pakledinaz and sound design by Olivier Award-winners Ben and Max Ringham.

Blithe Spirit replaces the previously postponed production of Heartbeat of Home in the Ahmanson Theatre’s 2014-2015 season.

Tickets for “Blithe Spirit” go on sale September 24 and are available by calling 213.972.4400, visiting www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, or in person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre.

Blithe Spirit, one of Noël Coward’s most popular comedies, was first seen on Broadway in 1941, the same year it was produced in London where it set British box office records and was the longest running comedy (1,997 performances) until it was eventually surpassed by Boeing-Boeing in the 1970s.  The original Broadway production played nearly two years and co-starred Leonora Corbett, Mildred Natwick, Clifton Webb and Peggy Wood.  In 1987, it was revived on Broadway in an all-star production with Richard Chamberlain, Blythe Danner, Judith Ivey, and Geraldine Page, in her final Broadway appearance.

The latest revival on Broadway in 2009 was directed by Michael Blakemore and co-starred Angela Lansbury, Jayne Atkinson, Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett, Simon Jones and Susan Louise O’Connor.  Following its critical acclaim and box office success on Broadway, Lansbury returned to the London stage after 40 years to reprise her Tony Award®-winning role. Also under the direction of Michael Blakemore and starring Lansbury, the London revival opened at the Gielgud Theatre on March 18, 2014, and co-starred Janie Dee, Serena Evans, Charles Edwards, Patsy Ferran, Simon Jones and Jemima Rooper.

Coward, in his autobiography, claimed he wrote the play in five days during a holiday.  Only two lines of dialogue were removed before its first production in London.

Researching for his new novel, Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. While consumed in a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth. One husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air – who will win in Coward’s unworldly comedy?

The North American tour of Blithe Spirit is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Steve Traxler, Lee Dean, John Frost, Charles Diamond and Will Trice in association with JAM Theatricals.