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Night of the living dead, brimming with laughter

Back from the dead, courtesy of the BroadHollow Theatre Company at the Elmont Memorial Library, is Noel Coward’s 1941 drawing-room comedy “Blithe Spirit,” in a crowd-pleasing production directed by Tommy Wallace.

Back from the dead, courtesy of the BroadHollow Theatre Company at the Elmont Memorial Library, is Noel Coward’s 1941 drawing-room comedy “Blithe Spirit,” in a crowd-pleasing production directed by Tommy Wallace.

The laughs are plentiful in Coward’s delightful script, which tells the story of Charles Condomine, a novelist who, wishing to gain experience for a new book, hires the local medium to hold a seance at his house. Much to Charles’ chagrin, they inadvertently conjure up the spirit of his late wife, Elvira. Much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife, Ruth, Elvira begins to haunt them.

At the first performance, Wallace’s production — in which he also stars as Charles — was still finding its footing. Any pacing problems will be fixed as the cast adjusts their performances to audience laughter, of which there is a great deal. Though the dialects are all over the place, the company is quite strong, most notably Sonya Tannenbaum as the daffy Madame Arcati, the medium.

Wallace has nice chemistry with both of his stage wives: Ruth, played by Rebecca Sharpe, and Elvira, played by Karen Rowan (who bears a striking similarity, in wig and gray costume, to the actress Christine Ebersole, who played Elvira on Broadway in 2009). Clips from Ebersole’s lovely new album of Noel Coward tunes punctuates each scene change.

Meghan Santelli’s lighting and Sal Perrotta’s cozy, well-appointed set provide a nice home for Coward’s paranormal goings-on. It is effectively destroyed, per his directions, at the very end.

Cast and running time

The company includes Frank Freeman, Lisa Meckes, Karen Rowan, Rebecca Sharpe, Sonya Tannenbaum, Tommy Wallace and Donna Waller Maggio. “Blithe Spirit” is performed in two acts with one 15-minute intermission. Running time is two hours and 40 minutes.

 
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