“Oh my God, I’m dying,” proclaimed Kristin Wolanin, with the buoyancy of someone positively effervescing with life. She then clarified, “It’s just my usual tailspin that happens around this time before every show.”
This was actually the second tailspin that this year’s fall production had induced in the director. The first was over the selection of the play itself. A confluence of factors large and small forced Wolanin to switch from her first choice to her second, and then from her second to panic.
As befits a dramatist who found herself “in the booth tearing my hair out,” deus ex machina took the form of a long-forgotten memory and Wolanin snatched inspiration from the jaws of hopelessness.
“Oh,” she recalled thinking. “‘Blithe Spirit!’ We’re going to do Noël Coward and everyone’s going to love it!”
Everyone will get a chance to prove Wolanin right when the curtain rises on the English playwright’s 1941 comedy centering on a séance gone wrong, leaving a widowed and remarried novelist haunted by one, then a second, ill-tempered ex-wife.
The showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday Nov. 14, 15, and 16, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. Advanced tickets are $7 and available here, or $10 at the door.
“This is a wonderful show for students to step up and showcase their talents,” Wolanin said. “Every cast member is in a role that’s totally different from anything they’ve done before, which has forced them to stretch out and really display their growth as actors.”
“The audience has to come ready to listen,” Wolanin continued. “A lot of the play is sitting and talking” and the dialog is dense with jokes that Wolanin described as “‘Frasier’ humor.” To properly deliver English upper crust jokes, the cast had to memorize and deliver their lines with an English accent.
Of all the areas in which the show required the actors to stretch themselves, elocution presented the stretchiest challenge.
“We’ve had some repeat offenders,” Wolanin said. “Been. Not. Those have been especially tricky for the kids.” But if her troupe can perform Shakespeare with American accents, why can’t they do the same with Noël Coward?
“You could,” Wolanin said, “but there’s a flavor that you’d lose. With this play especially, there’s comedy in the delivery of the words, in how they sound, that means you have to say them a certain way if you want to it to be funny.
“We want it to be funny, so we’ve put in the work to make sure it sounds right,” she said.
While the cast is all Upper Schoolers, the crew has both Middle and Upper Schoolers, with students in grades 6-12 helping bring “Blithe Spirit” to life. In addition, Wolanin’s former student and current assistant project manager at ATOMIC Design, Adam Curry, has lent his talents to the production as technical director.
Wolanin called the show “a great break from reality,” and its popularity has endured since its West End debut more than 75 years ago.
This would have come as no surprise to Coward, who didn’t want for confidence in his play. After German bombs had leveled his office and apartment in the Blitz, he headed to the Welsh coast for a brief working holiday.
“For six days I worked from eight to one each morning and from two to seven each afternoon. On Friday evening, May ninth, the play was finished and, disdaining archness and false modesty, I will admit that I knew it was witty, I knew it was well constructed, and I also knew that it would be a success,” Coward wrote.
Wolanin picked up the thought: “The kids are amazing and it’s going to be awesome.”
The LCDS Theater Company Presents “Blithe Spirit”
Charles Condomine — Christopher M.
Ruth Condomine — Malia C.
Elvira — Mae B.
Madame Arcati — Amelia L.
Dr. George Bradman — Adam M.
Violet Bradman — Tess M. & Maya R. (Understudy — Peachy L.)
Edith — Laura B. (Understudy — Peachy L.)
Production Stage Manager — Joan M.
Assistant Stage Managers — Charley W. & Adrien W.
Sound Designers — Hayden F. & Ben K.
Sound Run — Hayden F. & Ben K.
Props Mistresses and Run: Gaby N. & Linnea W.
Props Crew — Keira A., Mira H., & Litty C.
Props Run — Mira H.
Assistant TD —Riley E.
Deck Carpenter – Run — Riley E.
Set Crew/Stage Crew — Keira A., Renie C., Laurel M., Ruby N., & Frannie T.
Publicity Chief — Charley W.
Publicity Crew — Raphael A. & Ben K.
Costume Mistress/Master and Run — Julia N. & Theo Z.
Costume Crew — Lianne H. & Rebecca M.
Costume Run — Renie C., Lianne H., Laurel M., Rebecca M., & Frannie T.
Master Electrician and Run — Justin K.
Lighting Crew — Rebecca M.
Box Office Manager and Run — William H.
Box Office Assistant and Run — Noah S.
House Manager and Run — Sarah H.
Assistant House Manager and Run — Eli H.
Ushers — Keira A., Waasae A., Raphael A., Litty C., Rohan K., Ruby N., & Morgan T.