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Life and Arts

A supernatural mishap conjures up laughs in ‘Blithe Spirit’

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In a scene from the play “Blithe Spirit,” Joanna Churgin, as Madame Arcati, leads a seance with, clockwise, Meghan Lewis, Ted Wells, Leah Turner and Jack Kelly.
(Courtesy of Dennis Stover)

When a seance goes awry, comedy ensues in Noël Coward’s classic play “Blithe Spirit,” which opened last weekend at the Glendale Centre Theatre.

In the comedy, author Charles Condomine, played by Jack Kelly, invites over an eccentric woman who claims to be a medium, played by Joanna Churgin, for dinner and to lead a seance in an effort to gather material for an upcoming novel he’s writing.

During the seance, the self-proclaimed medium accidentally brings back the ghost of Condomine’s first wife, played by Hannah Howzdy, and only he can see and hear her, which leads to tensions with his current wife, played by Meghan Lewis, who doesn’t believe the dead wife’s ghost is in the house.

“Blithe Spirit,” directed by Zoe Bright, is the sixth show at the local theater for Glendale resident Ted Wells, who plays Dr. Bradman, a seance participant, in the production.

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He was a professional actor for many years, but he gave up that career to raise three children. He drove by the local theater many times and sometimes thought about performing again, but it wasn’t until the theater presented a classic musical around 2016 that the doors of opportunity opened for him.

“I came to see “Anything Goes,” and, with that, I just fell in love with the place. I couldn’t believe the quality of the production,” he said.

He asked how he could audition for shows and a theater representative said to provide his email address and he’d be contacted. He then auditioned.

“And the rest is history,” he said.

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His first show at the local theater was “Black Comedy,” under the direction of Bright. He then performed in other shows such as “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Is He Dead?"and “Barefoot in the Park.”

His children are now grown and he said he enjoys returning to the Glendale Centre Theatre because of the family atmosphere among the performers and staff.

Wells is a claims adjuster and works near the theater, which makes getting to rehearsals and performances relatively easy.

Bright, who has directed several shows at the Glendale Centre Theatre, said she has a personal connection with musical works by Coward, who wrote “Blithe Spirit” in the 1940s.

“I have CDs actually of him in his concerts and I’m going to have that playing in the foyer before we go into the play and at intermission and as [audience members] leave, and it’s actually him singing,”said Bright, who is British.

“He was a tremendous wit,” she added. “Always debonair.”

Recent past Glendale Centre Theatre shows directed by Bright include “Godspell,” “Mary Poppins” and “Annie.” She also played Mother Superior in the musical “Nunsense” earlier this season.

Without dropping a beat, Bright is moving on to direct the local theater’s next production, a musical version of “A Christmas Carol,” which she will co-direct with her daughter, Tayah Howard.

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The Glendale Centre Theatre is located at 324 N. Orange St., Glendale.

For more information about “Blithe Spirit,” visit glendalecentretheatre.com or call (818) 244-8481.

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