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Blithe Spirit takes the main stage

In a darkened theater, Tyler Junior College students will conjure spirits and laugh along while watching the spring 2008 main stage production of “Blithe Spirit.”

The TJC Theater Department will perform “Blithe Spirit” by Noel Coward as the spring semester main stage play on April 23, 24, 25, and 26 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee on April 27 at 2 p.m. at the Jean Brown Theater located in the Wise Cultural Arts building. Victor L. Siller, speech and theater instructor directs what he calls a “black comedy.”

According to the Williamstown Theater Festival website, “Coward’s beloved comedy tells of novelist Charles Condomine, a widower, who invites the eccentric medium Madame Arcati to give a séance as research for a novel he is working on. Madame Arcati conjures the spirit of Charles’ first wife, the selfish and spoiled Elvira who is increasingly desperate in her efforts to disrupt Charles’ current marriage.”

“Blithe Spirit” was first written by Noel Coward in the late 1930s and then produced as a play in the early 1940s. Those who attend a performance of “Blithe Spirit” can expect to view the play in its original 1940s style.

“It’s a black comedy, and I want to keep true to form. I want to keep it in ’40s style and representative of the period,” said Siller.

Siller and TJC students began preparing for the main stage play beginning with two nights of auditions. The first night of auditions included 25 TJC students who wished to perform in the play. The following night, students who wished to return were given an opportunity to audition for the play using an English dialect.

After the auditions had taken place, Siller took a look at the total list of performers and made his final decision on who would be the cast for “Blithe Spirit.”Jason Norton, a sophomore and theater major, was selected to play the role of Dr. Bradman.

When asked why he chose to audition for the play, Jason says, “well, I’m on scholarship for theater right now and I had to pick one, and I like ‘Vic’ the director and the premise of the play was a really good idea for me, I really liked it.”

He goes on to say, “I like everything about it, it’s comedy, I like comedies, and I really like farces. Farces that make fun of other things, you know, the whole his wife’s dead [idea], and they made this into a movie. But there’s another movie that they have, one with the dude’s wife that comes back from the dead and it’s like haunting ’em kinda thing, it’s kinda that basic premise. That’s what I like about it; it makes fun of that kind of stuff.”

Following auditions, the selected cast members and Siller began rehearsals for the play scheduled to open April 23. Rehearsals for the play run five nights a week, Sunday evenings through Thursday each week until opening night. Saturdays are given to the actors and actresses as time to themselves to enjoy a night off from rehearsing or to practice on their own.

“I will not do a Saturday rehearsal because the students need time on their own,” said Siller.

The first rehearsal on March 16 was only a read-through of the script followed by a week of the cast rough blocking their positions on stage.Rough blocking is the part of rehearsals in which the cast becomes familiar with where they will be moving around on stage during their live performances.

“It’s a basic blocking of the whole stage,” said Siller.

Once the students have completed the week of rough blocking they move on to working through each act of the play. “Blithe Spirit” is composed of three acts and the cast works through each act independently prior to working through the entire play.

After the performers have run through each act separately, they begin working through the play as a whole. This continues each night of rehearsal from March 28 through April 18 and leads into the technical rehearsal on April 19.

A technical rehearsal is the rehearsal where all of the technical aspects of the play are incorporated into the show and rehearsed including the lights, scenery and sound that will be used in the play. The technical rehearsal is followed by two nights of the cast preparing their costumes and makeup they will be using in their live performances of the play.

All of these rehearsals have led the cast to their last and biggest rehearsal, the dress rehearsal. The dress rehearsal is performed the day before opening night on April 22. This gives the cast an opportunity to work through the play in its entirety as it will be for the audience on opening night. The cast will be in full costumes and makeup and it includes all of the lighting, scenery, and sound of the play.

Cast: Leigh Shelton (Edith), Kalyn Holloway (Ruth), Adam Rios (Charles), Jason Norton (Dr. Bradman), Talitha White (Mrs. Bradman), Daphne White (Madame Arcati), and Daniela Colucci (Elvira).Crew: Victor L. Siller (director), Joe Hamm (director’s assistant), Josh Byrd (director’s assistant).

Students who wish to attend a performance of “Blithe Spirit” can pick up a ticket from the box office located on the first floor in the Wise Cultural Arts building. Tickets will be $5 each.

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