Angela Lansbury Returns to West End in Tony Winning Performance
Angela Lansbury will return to the London stage for the first time in nearly 40 years to reprise her Tony award-winning Broadway performance as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit, in a production co-produced by leading Australian theatre producer John Frost.
Opening at the Gielgud Theatre on 18 March 2014, with previews from 1 March, this new production of Noël Coward’s sharp comedy of social mores will be directed by Michael Blakemore and also star Janie Dee and Charles Edwards.
“While Angela was performing in Driving Miss Daisy here in Australia, we discussed a return to the London stage, and Blithe Spirit was the play Angela was keen to do,” said John Frost. “I’m thrilled to be co-producing Angela’s return to the London stage after a 40 year absence. As her six month tour in Driving Miss Daisy across Australia proved, Angela is a consummate stage actress, second to none, and still at the peak of her career.”
In order to observe a spiritualist first-hand for a planned novel, writer Charles Condomine (Charles Edwards) and wife Ruth (Janie Dee) invite friends the Bradmans to dinner and a séance with local clairvoyant Madame Arcati (Angela Lansbury), whom they are certain is a fake. That all changes when the ghost of his first wife, Elvira is summoned - and overstays her welcome in the following days, causing a rift between Charles and his at first disbelieving and then jealous second wife. The feuding wives, ghost and flesh, hatch plot and counter plot to sabotage each other’s and Charles’ existence but will they succeed?
Lansbury’s Broadway performance as Coward’s infamous clairvoyant earned her the 2009 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress and became her fifth Tony Award. Her professional career spans more than a half-century, during which she has flourished, first as a star of motion pictures, then as a Broadway musical star and then on television as the star of Murder, She Wrote. The actress made her Broadway debut in 1957 when she starred as Bert Lahr’s wife in the French farce, Hotel Paradiso.
In 1960, she returned to Broadway as Joan Plowright’s mother in the season’s most acclaimed drama A Taste of Honey, then starred on Broadway in her first musical, Anyone Can Whistle. Lansbury returned to New York in triumph in 1966 as Mame, for which she won the first of her Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical. She received the others as the Madwoman of Chaillott in Dear World (1968), as Mama Rose in the 1974 revival of Gypsy and as Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1979).
From 1984-1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on Murder, She Wrote, for which she won four Golden Globe Awards. In 1982, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and in 1994 she was named a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Angela and her husband Peter were married in 1949. They worked together until Peter’s death in January 2003. Angela has three grown children, Deirdre, Anthony and David, and three grandchildren.
Lansbury was last seen on the London stage playing Gertrude in the National Theatre production of Hamlet in 1975. Prior to that, she starred in the celebrated production of Gypsy at the Piccadilly Theatre and in the RSC production of All Over at The Aldwych.
Her most recent stage credit was as Daisy Werthan in the Australian national tour of Driving Miss Daisy, opposite James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines. In November this year Lansbury received an honorary Oscar in recognition of her outstanding 70 years of contribution to the film industry.
Blithe Spirit is produced in the West End by Lee Dean, Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, John Frost, Steve Traxler and Charles Diamond.