A night at the Guthrie? Always a treat. A performance with Sally Wingert? An even more delicious treat. Noel Coward's classic, Blithe Spirit is currently playing at the Guthrie for the next few weeks and I highly suggest you see it. It's one of the most entertaining and comedic shows I've seen in 2017 and I'm so happy it was the last one I saw of the year.
Blithe Spirit takes place in the summertime and Charles Condomine is working on his latest novel. As part of his research he and his wife Ruth host a seance with an eccentric medium known as Madame Arcati. Soon the evening takes a supernatural turn when Arcati conjures Charles' deceased first wife who doesn't have plans on leaving. Throughout the rest of the show, Charles slowly believes he's losing his sanity as he tries to get read of his first wife while also ensuring Ruth he is actually sane.
Starting with the absolutely gorgeous and stunning visual elements of this production. Starting with the scenic designer, Jo Winiarski this set is amazing. The colors are beautiful and the dressing in details in simply superb. While the show is considered a comedy, with the elements of the afterlife you'd think maybe the set would be a bit darker but it's full of bright whites, blues, and grays. Meg Neville designs absolutely breathtaking costumes as well including Madame Arcati's fabulous seance garb.
The cast is a dynamite cast and all new to me (with the exception of Sally). As many Twin Cities Theatre goers know, Wingert is an absolute treasure and it really is a treat to see her in anything but this one takes the cake. She is zany and wild as she acts out the incredibly hilarious Madame Arcati. The best part of this performance by Wingert is she never goes too over the top. I can easily see many actresses taking this role too far but she is completely in her element and never goes too far to the point where it's not believable anymore. Her characterization as the misunderstood psychic is spot on.
Heidi Armbruster plays Ruth and is probably my favorite thing about this entire production. Her transformation from doting, kind, gentle and controlled wife to wild, yelling and slightly chaotic wife is hilarious. She never rushes comedic moments or the transformation as she slowly realizes her husband is telling the truth and he does, in fact, see the ghost of his dead first wife. Her chemistry with Quinn Mattfeld (who plays Charles) is marvelous and I'm thrilled to hopefully see her in a multitude of productions in the future.
At times the pacing felt a little slow. Whether it's a long show or the pacing is anyone's guess. This show is about 2 and half hours long with a normal intermission and a quick "stand and stretch" intermission. Personally, I'd rather they just keep going but that's just me.
Overall though this production is a must-see for the new year. It's entertaining, dynamic and hilarious for all ages. There really isn't much more to say about this production because I could really ramble for hours about it. The cast knows exactly what they are doing to ensure the audience is enjoying every bit, every second.
Blithe Spirit plays at the Guthrie McGuire Proscenium Stage through January 14th. You can get tickets here.