published Thursday, October 17th, 2013

CTC's 'Blithe Spirit' casts a spooky pall over marriage - Oct. 18 - Nov. 3

Seated, from left, in a séance in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s production of “Blithe Spirit” are Greg Rambin as Dr. Bradman, Coylee Bryan as Madame Arcati and Mike Pala as Charles Condomine. Standing, from left, are Joanna Keeling as the late Mrs. Condomine and Lauren Johnson as the present Mrs. Condomine.
Seated, from left, in a séance in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s production of “Blithe Spirit” are Greg Rambin as Dr. Bradman, Coylee Bryan as Madame Arcati and Mike Pala as Charles Condomine. Standing, from left, are Joanna Keeling as the late Mrs. Condomine and Lauren Johnson as the present Mrs. Condomine.

IF YOU GO

* What: “Blithe Spirit.”

When: 8 p.m. Fridays- Saturdays, Oct. 18-19, Oct. 25, and Nov. 1-2; 7 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31; 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.

Where: MainStage, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.

Admission: $30 opening night, other performances $12.50-$25. ■ Phone: 423-267-8534. ■ Website: www.TheatreCentre.com.

BOO-NUS PROGRAMMING

In keeping with the Halloween season and the spooky aspect of “Blithe Spirit,” the CTC will offer additional programming with several performances of the play. ■ Friday, Oct. 18: Opening Night Gala at

7 p.m. precedes 8 p.m. show.

Thursday, Oct. 24: Real-time captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons in conjunction with show, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 25: “Ghost Light Session” follows

8 p.m. show in which audience members can talk with cast, director.

Thursday, Oct. 31: “Ghouls Night Out” Halloween party and costume contest at 6 p.m. precede the 7 p.m. show.

If there's anything worse than one jealous wife, it's two. And one of them is dead.

That's what confronts Charles Condomine in "Blithe Spirit," the Noel Coward play that opens on the MainStage of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre on Friday, Oct. 18, and runs through Nov. 3.

The play, selected by theatergoers and officials to be part of the theater's 90th season, was previously performed by the CTC in 1945, 1965 and 1994.

Director Patrick Sweetman says the classic, described by the playwright as "an improbable farce in three acts," consists of "smart people saying funny things to each other."

Condomine, a widower who is happily married to his second wife, Ruth, unexpectedly becomes haunted by his first wife while doing research for a new novel. In the research, he delves into the spirit world, and crackpot medium Madame Arcati conjures up Elvira, the first Mrs. Condomine.

Pleasing two wives, he finds, is practically impossible. And the wives find the experience rather dispiriting themselves. So what's a husband to do?

Sweetman says Coward employs elements of wilder comedies -- too many women and the relationship between adults -- but deals with it "warts and all" and in a humorous way. In doing so, he reveals how relationships "attract us and drive us crazy."

In addition, he says, the audience knows things the characters don't know, which leads to "a lot of really good comic misunderstandings."

"Blithe Spirit" is set in England in 1941 but, Sweetman says, it is "the idealized world of 1941," where there is no mention of World War II and a "charming" middle-class life is lived with servants and ease.

The title is taken from Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem "To a Skylark," a line of which reads: "Hail to thee, blithe spirit! / Bird thou never wert."

Just exactly which character is the blithe spirit -- whether one of the two wives, Madame Arcati or Condomine -- must be determined by each audience member, Sweetman says.

"Blithe Spirit" is recommended for teenagers and adults.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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