Rehearsing KCAT’s “Blithe Spirit” – Reincarnating a Comedy Classic

Cinnamon Schultz (Ruth), Matt Rapport (Dr. Bradman), Cheryl Weaver (Mrs. Bradman), Coleman Crenshaw (Charles), photo by Matt Sameck

“Does anyone in a Noel Coward play live happily ever after?” This quote was repeated several times during the first rehearsal for “Blithe Spirit,” the first show of Kansas City Actors Theatre’s 14th season. And maybe they don’t, but if the constant laughter throughout the first read-through is anything to go by, at least it’ll be a fun ride.

Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” follows a British author in the 1940’s who, in doing research for his next novel, sets up a séance with the local Medium. By the end of the evening, though, he ends up with more than he bargained for when the ghost of his late wife shows up to have a chat.

For Vanessa Severo, who plays the titular spirit, the show presents an exciting opportunity. “I love that we’re kind of doing a museum piece. It’s kind of like “Our Town.” It’s a play that everyone read or did in high school, but a lot of people don’t do it anymore. They were doing it 20 years ago, so it’s good to see how that art maintains.” For her, though, the play is also chance to just have fun. “It’s the power of being dead. No rules of the living apply.”

The actors aren’t the only ones having fun with this production, though. For the sound designers, it’s also a chance to surprise. “It’s taking a classic play and re-thinking what modern audiences might expect of ghostly sounds,” says co-sound designer Matt Shorr. “I get to add things that are comfortable to today’s audiences while also staying true to the period of the 40’s- create sounds that are subtle but are something cinematic.”

Vanessa Severo (Elvira), photo by Matt Sameck

Truly, the passion that each of the designers put in could be seen during their presentations. Hearing about the work that they’d been doing and seeing the materials they’d be working with was just the thing to get the actors in the mood for a very spirited read through, and when this cast came together, laughter was guaranteed.

“The cast is outstanding and amazing,” says Doug Weaver, the show’s director. “We have the right mixture of handling the comedy and mixing it with spectacular magic and special effects.”

Coleman Crenshaw, who plays Charles, can’t help but agree. “The words are hilarious and witty. The cast is amazing. So, I’m really looking forward to all of it really.”

Come see Coleman Crenshaw, Matt Rapport, Jan Rogge, Vanessa Severo, Cinnamon Schultz, Margaret Shelby, and Cheryl Weaver in what’s sure to be KCAT’s funniest show this season! “Blithe Spirit” runs August 8-26 at the H&R Block City Stage in Union Station. Visit www.kcactors.org or call the Central Ticket Office at (816) 235-6222 for more information and tickets.

–Joshua Woodall

About The Author: Contributing Writer

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