Blithe Spirit: Jayne Atkinson joins cast

Variety reports that Jayne Atkinson will join the cast of the Broadway revival of Noel Coward's comedy, Blithe Spirit, to be directed by Michael Blakemore, playing at the Shubert Theatre from 26 Feb 2009.

Atkinson will play the role of 'Ruth,' the long-suffering wife of Charles Condomine who is plaqued by the spirit of his deceased wife 'Elvira.' She joins a cast that also features Angela Lansbury, Rupert Everett, Christine Ebersole and Simon Jones.

Atkinson is a two-time Tony nominee. She was nominated for her first Tony for her portrayal of 'Lizzie Curry' in 'The Rainmaker' (1999 revival) and a second time for her role as 'Lotty Wilton' in 'Enchanted April' (2003). Her other Broadway credits include 'All My Sons' (Ann Deever: 1987 revival), 'Ivanov' (Anna Petrovna: 1997 revival) and 'Our Town' (Mrs. Gibbs: 2002 revival).

Blithe Spirit tells the story of socialite Charles Condomine, an author seeking to expose psychics. During a seance with the eccentric medium Madame Arcati, Charle's dead wife, Elvira (Christine Ebersole), is accidentally summoned and refuses to leave. Only Charles can see and communicate with Elvira, and he grows increasingly alarmed once he relises that his dead wife is planing to kill him so that he can join her on the otherside - a plan which has unfortunate consequences for his present wife, Ruth.

Lansbury will star as eccentric medium Madame Arcati. She last appared on Broadway in Terrence McNally's 'Deuce' (2007), in which she starred alongside Marian Seldes. That was her first role on Broadway in almost 25 years, and earned her a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play. In her 60-plus year career on stage, film and television, Ms. Lansbury has received four Tony Awards for her starring roles in 'Mame,' 'Dear World,' 'Gypsy' and 'Sweeney Todd,' three Academy Award nominations for 'Gaslight' (her screen debut), 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' and 'The Manchurian Candidate,' and 18 Emmy Award nominations, including 12 for her long-running television series, 'Murder, She Wrote.'

Everett will star as husband 'Charles Condomine.' He first came to prominence when he starred as 'Guy Bennett' in Julian Mitchell's 'Another Country' which had its world premiere at the Greenwich Theatre in 1982, and later went on to transfer to London's West End. He was subsequently cast in the play's film adaptation. Other noteworthy films he has starred in include 'My Best Friend's Wedding,' 'An Ideal Husband,' 'The Next Best Thing' and the 'Shrek' sequels.

Ebersole will star as the departed wife 'Elvira.' Ebersole won her first Tony for her role as 'Dorothy Brock' in '42nd Street' (2001 revival), and her second for her roles as 'Edie Beale / Edith Bouvier Bealei in 'Grey Gardens' (2006). Ebersole was nominated for a Tony for her work in 'Dinner at Eight' (2002 revival).

Simon Jones last appeared on Broadway in 'Waiting in the Wings' (1999), his other Broadway credits include 'Ring Round the Moon' (1999 revival), 'The Herbal Bed' (1998), 'The School for Scandal' (1995 revival), 'The Real Inspector Hound and The Fifteen Minute Hamlet' (1992), 'Private Lives' (1992), 'Getting Married' (1991 revival), 'Benefactors' (1985) and 'The Real Thing' (1984).

Director Michael Blakemore is the winner of two Tony Awards: 'Kiss Me, Kate' (2000 revival) and 'Copenhagen' (2000). He has been nominated for Tony's for his staging of 'The Life' (1997), 'City of Angels' (1990), 'Lettice and Lovage' (1990), 'Noises Off' (1984), 'A Day in the Death of Joe Egg' (1968).

Blithe Spirit was first produced on Broadway 1941. It was revived in 1987, directed by Brian Murray, and featured 'Richard Chamberlain' as 'Charles Condomine,' Blythe Danner as 'Elvira,' 'Judith Ivey' as 'Ruth' and Geraldine Page as 'Madame Arcati.' Page was nominated for a Tony for Best Actress for her performance.

The production will be produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler, currently represented on Broadway by Tracy Letts� August: Osage County and Spring Awakening. They are also the team behind the Broadway revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plough playing at the Ethal Barrymore Theatre from 3 Oct 2008 - 22 Feb 2009.

Originally published on

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