Tonight at 7:30pm the award-winning Musical Theatre Guild presents High Spirits, a musical adaptation of Noel Coward’s enduring ghostly comedy, Blithe Spirit, at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. MTG is devoted to resurrecting the forgotten, seldom seen and undiscovered gems of Broadway in staged concert format.
In 1964, Noel Coward’s witty wartime comedy, Blithe Spirit, was adapted into the musical High Spirits, featuring book, music and lyrics by Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray. The premise remained the same: While hosting a séance conducted by the rather eccentric Madame Arcati, writer Charles Condomine is forced to abandon his belief that the woman is nothing more than an entertaining charlatan with a few tricks up her colorful sleeve when she conjures up the playful and temperamental spirit of his deceased first wife, Elvira. But Elvira’s efforts to kill off Charles so he can be with her in the spirit world backfire when she accidentally does away with his current wife, Ruth, instead. Then it’s two against one as both wives haunt the hapless husband.
High Spirits opened on Broadway on Apr. 7, 1964 and ran for 375 performances. It was nominated for eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Composer and Lyricist, Best Author of a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical for Noel Coward. (Trivia Note: One of the ensemble members was a little known actor named Ronnie Walken. Unfamiliar? Perhaps you know him better by the name he now goes by: Christopher Walken.)
Blithe Spirit was revived last spring on Broadway with Angela Lansbury winning the 2009 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her hilarious turn as Madame Arcati.
MTG is comprised of over 70 first-rate musical theatre performers, many of them with national tour and Broadway credits. Award-winning director Richard Israel directs a top-notch cast for High Spirits that includes (in alphabetical order) Teri Bibb, Michelle Duffy, Kim Huber, Damon Kirsche, Carol Kline, Marsha Kramer, Tracy Lore, William Martinez, Brandon Michael Perkins, Jeffrey Polk and Lowe Taylor.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: High Spirits, produced by S. Marc Jordan and Les Traub for Musical Theatre Guild. Presented at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Mon., Feb. 22 at 7:30pm. Tickets: $40. Reservations: 818/243-ALEX, the Alex box office, or click here. Running time: unknown.