Noel Coward’s comedy returns to its Welsh roots
TV star Russell Grant returns to Portmeirion in October to celebrate 75 years since Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit in the iconic Welsh village.
The 65-year-old Strictly Come Dancing Star is set to play the magnificently dotty Madam Arcati in an amateur production of Coward’s glacial comedy about spiritualism.
This is the first time a man has embraced the role, recently played by Angela Lansbury in the West End. He will be joined by members of the Starlight Players in Criccieth.
“We’re going to do a special production, a radio play but the characters will be dressed in full 1940s costume,” he says. “But we’re doing it in a way that utilises the compact Hercules Hall, the most stunning of halls, changing it into a set for the condomines in Kent.”
Russell, who lives in Maentwrog, is thrilled to be putting on the production just 100 yards away from where the play was originally written.
“We’re doing it in a way that’s very authentic to the way Coward wrote it. So, everything’s going to be in a way that he would have wanted it – from the stage directions to sound.”
Grant has been eager to show Blithe Spirit in Portmeirion for years and is thrilled that he will finally fulfil his ambition this autumn.
“We originally thought it would be a great idea to do the 70th anniversary in the Village,” he explains. “We’d had a huge hit with Midsummer’s Night Dream in 2011 and we were going to segway from this to Blithe Spirit but I was asked by the BBC to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, so it didn’t happen.”
Despite the amateur nature of the production, Grant is confident that Blithe Spirit will be a huge hit, not least because it’s returning to its roots.
“Coward wrote Blithe Spirit less than 100 feet away from where we’ll be in October - and I think we’ll pick up his vibe,” he laughs.
BLITHE SPIRIT OCTOBER 19-21. TICKETS WITH FIZZ COST £20PP. BOOK BY CALLING 01766 772 390
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