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| On the Boards

Grove Theatre Revives Coward's 'Blithe Spirit'

March 04, 2000|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Early in 1941, with WWII casting a dark cloud over Europe, Noel Coward decided his contribution to the war effort would be to write a memorable comedy, direct and star in a powerful film about the British Navy, and write several songs that would last.

The film was "In Which We Serve," and Coward's songs from that period have lasted. But the most visible of his contributions has become one of his most-often produced comedies, "Blithe Spirit," which Coward, always a speedy creator, wrote in five days.

The play centers around a newly married couple, whose bliss is interrupted by the appearance of the husband's late first wife, or at least her spirit. Coward's point is that three is most certainly a crowd.

"Blithe Spirit" is being revived by the Grove Theatre Center under the direction of Kevin Cochran.

Why did Cochran choose this particular work?

"It's just a very funny play," Cochran says. "We always like doing different styles, and we wanted an eclectic season, and this style of British comedy is something we hadn't done before."

Cochran had the actors on hand to do it, most of whom are familiar to GTC audiences. David Allen Jones is playing the husband, Charles; Jane Macfie is his new wife, Ruth; and Patricia Boyette is the ghost of Charles' first wife, Elvira.

Has the ghostly, grinning tale played any tricks on the company? "We haven't had anything supernatural happen in rehearsals," Cochran says.

Along with the spirit of Elvira on stage, Cochran knows that the spirit of Coward in the highly structured dialogue will be there to cast his own cosmic--or comic--spell.

* "Blithe Spirit," Grove Theatre Center, 12852 Main St., Garden Grove. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Ends March 19. $18.50-$22.50. (714) 741-9555.

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