Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012

Noel Coward's Comic Seance with Soulstice

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Noel Coward. Char Manny. Shannon Tyburski. Jillian Smith. Liz Mistele. If you are familiar with theatre, you're familiar with one of these names. If you're familiar with local theatre, you're probably familiar with a couple of these names. Extra points if you can recognize more than a couple. 

This coming month, Soulstice Theatre ties these names together in a production of Blithe Spirit. Steve Pfisterer plays a novelist who has invited a medium to his house so that he can learn the language of the occult for his latest novel. I love the fact that the medium in question is played by Liz Mistele. She's an actress who can make the otherworldly and saturnine feel cozy and casual. There's a sort of a vague feeling of Madame Blavatski about her stage presence that should be fun here. During a seance, the medium inadvertently summons the author's first wife--Elvira. Elvira is payed here by Jillian Smith, who can work wonders in a comic role given the right opportunity. Shannon Tyburski has the honor of playing the author's second wife, who also gets summoned. Tyburski has done a lot of work onstage in the recent past, but this is the first time in recent memory that she's been featured so prominently in a comic role. Yes, she was in Stage Door with the Sunset Playhouse, but in the role of the female lead, she ended up playing more of the serious end of the story. It should be fun to see her in a more straight ahead comic role. Soulstice's Char Manny directs .


Blithe Spirit is over 70 years old now . . . it originally was stage on London's West End in 1941. London was mercilessly bombed by the Germans in 1940 . . . the next year Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit ended up becoming one of the longest-running non-musicals in England, closing after 1,9997 performances. The play has comic teeth that remain quite compelling to this day. Numerous revivals have happened over the years, most recently a big-budget Broadway revival in February of 2009. 


Soulstice Theatre's production of Blithe Spirit runs November 2nd through November 17th. For ticket reservations, call 414-481-2800 or visit Soulstice online.


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