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Blithe Spirit

By Noel Coward
A delightfully improbable farce

 Directed by

Stan Henderson

 

 May 2005

 

 

Noel Coward (1899-1973) was one of the most prolific and versatile writers of the twentieth century, having written thirty-one plays, eleven musicals, a handful of movies, eleven books, and numerous short stories. Among his notable plays are Hay Fever, Private Lives, Present Laughter, and of course, Blithe Spirit. In addition to writing, Coward starred in many of his creations, including the original 1941 London production of Blithe Spirit in which he portrayed the hapless husband Charles Condomine.That production was a smashing success, becoming the longest running non-musical play in London to that time. It was later made into a motion picture in 1945 starring Rex Harrison.Apart from their intrinsic qualities, Coward's plays were significant in altering perceptions of how stage dialogue should be written and spoken in the English theatre with his more conversational approach Coward was knighted in 1970 and in the same year was awarded a special Tony Award for distinguished achievement in the theatre.

Blithe Spirit was first performed at the Opera House, Manchester in England on 16th June 1941.

 

This is the third production of Blithe Spirit at the Lieder Theatre, the first directed by Colin Chapman in May 1952 with Carole Miller, Leigh Day, Heather Cunningham, Robert Boyton, Moira Blake, Audrey Galland and Edith Coughlan.

 

The second Lieder production was directed by John Spicer in August 1977 with Diana Polly, John Spicer, Kathy Eglitis, Paulene Bailey, Patrick Jordan, Jeni Barringer and Nerida McLean

 

Other Coward productions staged at the Lieder  - Hayfever (1985) Private Lives (1986) & Nude with Violin (1989)

 

About the Director

 

Stan Henderson began ballet training with Misha Burlakov in Sydney, further studying with Valentin Zeglovsky and Leon Kellaway. He graduated to Principal Dancer with the Australian Ballet Company. In 1949 he travelled overseas to dance in Buenos Aires then to Paris performing with Les Ballets Monmartre. From there he joined the F.J.B. Theatre as choreographer and principal dancer resident for three years.

He continued training in London with George Goncharov, directing the London production of Yes We Have No Pyjamas, which ran for twelve months. Stan completed drama training with the Guildhall in London, he then taught at Hampshire School of Speech and Drama and Pinelands College. Returning to Australia in 1956 he opened a theatre school in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

 

Stan directed a vast number of plays and musicals, and worked with opera students at the Canberra School of Music. He has been involved in Film and Television productions of Ginger Meggs, Pharlap, Bodyline and Army Wives and has choreographed for A Country Practice.

 

At the Lieder Stan has starred in Aladdin, Mother Goose, Dick Whittington, choreographed Dinkum Assorted, Dancing at Lughnasa and directed Humpty Dumpty and The Farndale Murder Mystery. He last appeared on the Lieder stage in John Spicer’s 2000 production of Dark of the Moon. In 2003 Stan took over from Mary Spicer to direct A Month of Sundays and later that year directed and choreographed our Old Time Music Hall.

 

Cast

In order of their appearance

Edith (a maid)

 

Jenny Hart

Ruth

 

Christine Bentley

Charles

 

Stephen Hart

Doctor Bradman

 

Richard Shoppee

Mrs Bradman

 

Fiona Churchill

Madam Arcarti

 

Judith Boyd

Elvira

 

Heather Edwards

 

The action of the play passes in the living room of Charles Condomine’s house in Kent

 

 

Act One

Scene 1 – Before dinner on a summer evening

Scene 2 – After dinner

Scene 3 – The next morning

Scene 4 – Later the following afternoon

 

Act Two

Scene 1– Early evening a few days later

Scene 2 – After dinner a few days later

Scene 3 – Several hours later

 

Production

Director

 

Stan Henderson

Stage manager

 

Kathy Campbell

ASM

 

Oliver Doebler & Ellie McMahon

Wardrobe design & coordination

 

Pauline J Mullen

Poster design

 

Eben Nigro

Set design

 

John Knops & Chrisjohn Hancock

Set construction

 

John Knops

Assisted by

 

Jennifer Hart & Gosh Waters

Sound

 

Sarah Harris

Recording assistance

 

Peter McLaren

Lights

 

Melissa Hillyar

Rigging assistance

 

Ellie McMahon, Gosh Waters, Ben Backhouse

Prompt

 

Julie Salway

Photography

 

Craig Edwards

Tickets

 

Doreen Mullen

Front of House Manager

 

Colin Simson

Newsletter editor

 

Brian Hill


 

 

Christine Bentley – Ruth

Christine’s clear diction and ringing tones have benefited many a Lieder production since she first appeared here for John Spicer in Noel Coward’s Nude with Violin. Her subsequent stage activities have included sharing the favours of Ian Croker and Phillip Harris in another Coward play Design for Living, and having a curiously spaced relationship with Des Storrier’s character in Same Time Next Year. Other plays include Ladies in Retirement, Daylight Saving, House on the Cliff and Dark of the Moon (2000). Her most recent appearance was as John Spicer’s daughter, Julia in A Month of Sundays. Previous to Lieder, Christine was involved as both actor and director in the Crookwell Amateur Dramatic Society, and at Sydney’s Marian Street Theatre.

 

Judith Boyd – Madam Arcarti

Judith joined the Lieder Theatre in September 2001 having moved to the area from Sydney where she has been an active member of the Castle Hill Players for almost twenty-five years and ran the Castle Hill Youth Theatre for much of that time, teaching drama at The Hills Grammar School and adjudicating at several country drama festivals in NSW. She attended a part time Drama School in England before moving with her family to Australia in 1978. Judith has been involved in over one hundred plays in one way or another. In more recent years she has directed plays including The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, Twelve Angry Men, Nuts, Agnes of God, Oh What a Lovely War, Toad of Toad Hall, Educating Rita, and has acted in The Homecoming, Blithe Spirit, Bold Girls, Equus, and Don’s Party. Judith attended the writing course at NIDA in 1992, and subsequently had plays performed at NIDA and at the National Playwrights Conference in Canberra. At the Lieder Judith has directed Once A Catholic, Sylvia, and Hating Alison Ashley. In 2003 she ran workshops and wrote for the Lieder Youth Theatre’s 2 Friendly 4 Words, performed in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, provided administrative support and promotion for productions and operated lights for Pinocchio. She is currently president of the Lieder’s Board of Management.

 

 

Kathy Campbell  - Stage manager

Kathy has decided to try something different at the Lieder. Her new role follows on from attending stage management workshops at the theatre conducted by Brian Richardson earlier this year. On stage Kathy was last seen in Inheritance in March and last year in Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and Hating Alison Ashley directed by Judith Boyd. In 2003 she performed in Old Time Music Hall directed by Stan Henderson. Kathy joined the Lieder in 1993 to perform in Steel Magnolias. Since then she has worked on numerous productions with Chrisjohn Hancock, John Spicer, Judith Boyd and Stan Henderson. Performances include Humpty Dumpty, The Curious Savage, Too Many Cooks, Skirmishes, Hotel Sorrento, House on the Cliff, Dinkum Assorted, On the Bridge, Dark of the Moon, The Farndale Murder Mystery, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Dracula, Pinocchio, Once a Catholic and Forks’n All (a feast for peace). Kathy is on the Lieder Board of Management.

 

Fiona Churchill – Mrs Bradman

Fiona joined the Lieder in 1995 to play in Golden Valley. Since then she has been seen in many productions including the Farndale Murder Mystery, Oliver, Hamlet, Blackrock, Under Milk Wood, Cosi, and On the Bridge. In 2002 she performed in Habeas Corpus and in 2003 in Judith Boyd’s canine comedy Sylvia. That year she also performed in two rehearsed reading at the Theatre, The Man Who and The Vagina Monologues. Last year Fiona performed in Come Back to the five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and the rehearsed reading Minefields and Miniskirts. She began this year playing in Hannie Rayson’s Inheritance. Fiona has worked backstage as a lighting operator and is currently on the Lieder Board of Management coordinating charity nights for the mainstage.

 

Heather Edwards - Elvira

Heather’s busy year at the Lieder in 2004 included performing in Away, the world premiere production of an amazing local Goulburn story The Ballad of Mary Ann Brownlow, so successful it is to be revived for a return season this year, Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, and the rehearsed reading of Minefields and Miniskirts. In 2002 Heather played in our comedy production of Habeas Corpus, and in 2001 she performed in Dracula and Oliver Twist. Her previous roles at the Lieder include the Mouse with the Long tail in Alice in Wonderland, a lovely collection of Welsh women in our 1999 production of Under Milkwood, and Thelma in Stan Henderson’s hilarious production of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society murder Mystery – Murder at Checkmate Manor

 

 

Jennifer Hart – Edith

This is Jenny’s fourth production with the Lieder having provided many of the highlights in our Christmas production of Old Time Music Hall directed by Stan Henderson in 2003 and playing Vic in our 2004 opening production, Away, directed by Chrisjohn Hancock, followed by some unforgettable characters in Judith Boyd’s hilarious production of Hating Alison Ashley. She came to Goulburn from Newcastle in 1993 and began performing with the Argyle Society. Her shows there include The Merry Widow, Thanks for the Memory, Sweet Hearts, Trial by Jury, Mikado, A fine Romance, Nothing Like a Dame, Iolanthe, As Time Goes By, Pirates of Penzance, Ruddigore, Di Fledermaus and La Belle Helene. Jenny also performed in the inaugural GRAB Festival (Goulburn Regional Arts Bash) in 1996.

 

Stephen Hart – Charles

Blithe Spirit is Stephen’s first production with the Lieder. He says he likes to sing tenor and consequently has performed in a number of shows with the Argyle Musical Society including Iolanthe, Die Fledermaus, Pirates of Penzance, Ruddigore and in 2003 La Belle Helene. As well as singing Stephen enjoys playing the piano and walking.

 

Richard Shoppee – Dr Bradman

Richard has been an active member of Lieder since 1998, involved in fundraising activities, Front of House duties and on the Lieder Board of Management. This is his fourth appearance on the Lieder stage, his first being as Mr Brownlow in Chrisjohn Hancock’s 2001 production of Oliver Twist, followed by the role of Peter in A Month of Sundays directed by Stan Henderson in 2003.Last year he played Dr Morton in the world premiere of the locally written play The Ballad of Mary Ann Brownlow. Richard also had a performing role in the Company’s peace festival performances at St Saviour’s Cathedral, Fork’s n All (a feast for peace).