Blithe Spirit, dress rehearsal, April 2008

Ruth Condomine (Becky Schoenfeld) tells Edith (Brianna Stronk) to slow down a little when performing her duties.  It is not necessary to do everything "at the double." Her husband Charles (Christopher Berrien) has arranged a dinner party with some arcane entertainment.  He's writing a book about a murderous medium and he wants to watch a séance for realistic dialogue.
The guests for dinner include the very skeptical Dr. George Bradman (Bruce Showalter), his extremely eager wife, Violet (Cynthia Lee Andersen), and the eccentric medium, Madame Arcati (Kelly Seip). Madame Arcati sits everyone down at the table and gives precise instructions as to their behavior once the séance is underway.
The ceremony starts and produces quite a few raps and bumps from the table.  All in all, it is less than the hoped-for effect, so Madame Arcati goes into full-trance mode. Her trance has results, of a sort.  The voice of Arcati's control, Daphne (voice of Emma and Lizzie Rucci), is heard.  Charles, however, hears another voice that frightens him into abruptly ending the proceedings and attempting to revive Arcati.
The séance was too successful by half.  Charles' first wife Elvira (Rayah Martin), who died seven years ago, suddenly walks through the door.  No one but Charles can see or hear her.  Ruth is quite upset by what Charles says to Elvira, thinking he is talking to her instead. The next morning, Charles gets a chilly reception from Ruth, who is certain that Charles was completely drunk last night.  He tries in vain to convince her otherwise until Elvira once again appears.  Ruth is now sure that her husband is mad.
In an attempt to prove his sanity to Ruth, Charles persuades Elvira to carry a vase across the room.  This only serves to panic Ruth, who now thinks Charles is trying some awful trick on her. Ruth finally accepts the fact that Elvira has returned.  She invites Madame Arcati to tea and asks for her help.  Arcati is thrilled to have accomplished a genuine manifestation, but Ruth blames the medium for her impossible situation.  They have words and Madame Arcati storms off.
The Bradmans check in on the household.  After they leave, Ruth tries to make Charles realize what's happening.  He fell off a ladder and Edith the maid fell down the front stairs.  Obviously Elvira is up to something, but Charles can't see it.  Ruth drives off to get mystical help. But it's too late.  Elvira had cut the brake lines and Ruth crashed at the bottom of the hill.  After the funeral, Madame Arcati calls to sympathize and offer her help at last.
Arcati is ecstatic just to be able to sense Elvira's presence, even if she can't see her.  She reluctantly waits in the dining room so Elvira and Charles can have a serious discussion. It seems their marriage was actually filled with neglect, infidelity, and other disappointments.  Although Elvira wants to go "home," wherever that is, she is not confident when Charles and Arcati start their banishing ritual.
But all that does is materialize Ruth!  An exhausted Madame Arcati works through the night to banish both spirits to no avail.  Suddenly the answer comes to Arcati. The wives have been summoned not by Charles, but by Edith.  Arcati puts Edith into a trance, and succeeds in sending both Ruth and Elvira back to the other side.
Arcati leaves, advising Charles to leave as well.  Quickly.  Sure enough, even though they cannot be seen or heard, the wives make their presence felt.  Watch that chandelier!

More photos
Other Theatre links:

In The Spotlight, Inc.
Pillow Talking—"He Said/She Said"
The Connecticut Callboard
Connecticut Gilbert and Sullivan Society

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