"blithe spirit"

Published March 29, 1987


Richard Chamberlain, Blythe Danner, Judith Ivey, Geraldine Page IN Blithe Spirit, 3/29/87



Broadway had to wait until March 1987 for its first revival of Blithe Spirit. The production was troubled out of town. Director Brian Bedford quit and was replaced by Brian Murray who said, “You can’t wing Coward. You’ve got to know what you’re saying and why you’re saying it, and then you’ve got to know how to say it. When Coward clicks, it results in a feeling like no other. It’s an absolute joy, like surfing on an endless set of waves or driving a Porsche. It’s a thrilling, exhilarating experience.”

Before the show opened, as a publicity stunt, the producers hired a medium to have a séance at the Neil Simon Theatre in order to predict the show’s future. The medium went into a trance and said that the stars would win Tony awards and that the play would be a hit. Unfortunately, he was mistaken. Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times that, apart from Blythe Danner, the actors were miscast. Chamberlain, who struggled with the text, discovered that Coward is more difficult than Shakespeare.

The medium did not predict that, on June 13, Geraldine Page, who was indeed nominated for a Tony, would not show up for either the matinee or evening performance and that on June 18, the Neil Simon Theatre would be filled to overflowing for her memorial service. Blithe Spirit closed on June 28.


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