Don’t be surprised if the lights go out during East Central University’s production of “Blithe Spirit.”
It’s about a ghost, after all. It’s also a Noel Coward comedy and it will be staged in the intimate Chalmers Herman Theatre where the spooky action could be just inches from the audience.
Director Ruth Richardson, facility coordinator for the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center which houses the Chalmers Herman Theatre, is planning “ghostly type things” for the production, which will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday [OCT. 6-8].
Only 120 seats are available each night. Season ticket holders need to reserve seats on the night of their choice. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased online at tickets.ecok.edu or reserved by calling the theatre’s box office at 580-559-5751 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
All tickets should be picked up at the will call window the night of the play. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door. ECU employees and students will be admitted free with a valid ID.
The troubles begin when Charles Condomine, a writer researching the occult for a novel, sets up a séance in his home. He brings in Madame Arcati, an eccentric medium who begins the séance with Charles, his wife, Ruth, and their friends, Dr. and Mrs. Bradman.
“Unfortunately,” Richardson said, “Elvira, Charles’ first wife who has been dead for seven years, gets called back during the seance. Charles is the only one who can hear or see her, and he tries to convince Ruth and the others that she’s there.”
Charles, who will be played by Jeff Bush of Bowlegs, and Ruth, portrayed by Deanna Hibler of Oklahoma City, have to figure out what to do as Elvira continues, with increasing desperation, to disrupt their marriage.
“Some scenes are spooky, but they’re also very funny,” Richardson said.
Heath Holt of Ada will play Madame Arcati.
“He is hilarious in that part,” the director said. “He read beautifully for it. I couldn’t imagine anyone else in that role. He plays it to perfection. It’s a big character, a fun character, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t have fun with it.”
The ghostly Elvira will be played by Anna Unruh of Ardmore. Cast as the Bradmans are Chris Scoles of Ada and Kathy Spillman of Allen. Valore Brewer of Allen will play Edith, the Condomines’ maid.
It’s not exactly a coincidence that Richardson is directing a play about ghosts so close to Halloween. But that’s not the main reason.
“I’ve always loved ‘Blithe Spirit,’” she said. “Noel Coward is a brilliant writer. He’s a genius with words.”
The show will have period costumes and music from the 1940s, the years it was first produced. With a large set, special effects and spooky light cues, it is shaping up to be a huge production in a small space, Richardson said.
She said the play probably would have a PG-13 rating because of some mild language.