Angela Lansbury returns to the West End to star in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre

Posted on 29 November 2013

It has been announced that Angela Lansbury will return to the West End for the first time in nearly 40 years. The star will reunite with acclaimed director Michael Blakemore to reprise her Tony award-winning Broadway performance as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit.

Blithe Spirit will begin previews at the Gielgud Theatre on 1st March 2014 before officially opening on 18th March. The production will run until 7th June 2014. This new production of Noël Coward’s sharp comedy of social mores will also star Janie Dee and Charles Edwards.

‘In order to observe a spiritualist first-hand for a planned novel, writer Charles Condomine (Charles Edwards) and wife Ruth (Janie Dee) invite friends the Bradmans to dinner and a séance with local clairvoyant Madame Arcati (Angela Lansbury), whom they are certain is a fake. That all changes when the ghost of his first wife, Elvira is summoned - and overstays her welcome in the following days, causing a rift between Charles and his at first disbelieving and then jealous second wife. The feuding wives, ghost and flesh, hatch plot and counter plot to sabotage each other’s and Charles’ existence but will they succeed?’

Angela Lansbury’s Broadway performance as Coward’s infamous clairvoyant earned her the 2009 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress and became her fifth Tony Award. Her professional career spans more than a half-century, during which she has flourished, first as a star of motion pictures, then as a Broadway musical star and most recently as the star of Murder, She Wrote.

Lansbury was last seen on the London stage playing Gertrude in the National Theatre’s production of Hamlet in 1975. Prior to that, she starred in the celebrated production of Gypsy at the Piccadilly Theatre and in the RSC production of All Over at The Aldwych. In November this year Lansbury received an honorary Oscar in recognition of her outstanding 70 years of contribution to the film industry.

Janie Dee plays Charles’ second wife Ruth. Dee is one of theatre’s biggest stars, having played countless starring roles in musicals and plays in both London’s West End and in some of the UK’s most prestigious regional theatres. She won the Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Play, as well as the Obie and Theatre World Best Newcomer Award in New York, for her legendary performance as Jacie Triplethree in Alan Ayckbourn's 'Comic Potential' which was written especially for her. Dee has also won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her performance as Carrie Pipperidge in Nicholas Hytner's acclaimed production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Carousel' at the National Theatre. Most recently she won a UK Theatre Award for her critically acclaimed portrayal of the title role in Hello Dolly at the Leicester Curve. 

Charles Edwards plays Charles Condomine, who is married to Ruth his second wife. This appearance brings Charles back to Blithe Spirit as he made his theatrical debut in the play. Since then he has played numerous roles at the National Theatre including: This House, Twelfth Night, The Duchess of Malfi, All My Sons and Strange Interlude. His other theatre credits include: Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at The Globe and George V in The King’s Speech, both of which gained him Evening Standard Award Best Actor nominations, as well as Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps in the West End and on Broadway. On television he is best known as Michael Gregson, a wealthy London publisher and suitor of Lady Edith Crawley in the global hit Downton Abbey.

Noël Coward has achieved enduring success as a playwright. Many of his plays are firm favourites in the theatre repertoire and include Private Lives, Hay Fever, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit, which remains one of his most popular comedies. His screenwriting credits include In Which We Serve (which he also co-directed) and Brief Encounter.

Further casting to be announced. 

Andrew Tomlins