Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit opens at the Apollo Theatre on 9 March (previews from 2 March 2011) with Alison Steadman in the role of Madame Arcati.

The production, directed by Thea Sharrock, opened at Bath Theatre Royal and has played a limited regional tour before making its way into the West End. Steadman is joined in the all-star cast by Ruthie Henshall, Hermione Norris and Robert Bathurst.

In the comedy, Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth hold a séance so that he can learn the tricks of the trade as research for his new novel. What begins as after-dinner entertainment becomes a life-changing experience when the eccentric medium Madame Arcati inadvertently conjures up the ghost of Charles’ first wife Elvira, who’s determined to win him back.

Coward wrote Blithe Spirit in just seven days, while staying at Portmeirion in 1941, after his London office and apartment had been destroyed in the Blitz. He felt the public needed something fun and escapist during the darkest days of the war. It opened in the West End just two months later and became a box office hit. The 1945 film starred Rex Harrison and Margaret Rutherford.

Steadman's most famous stage credits include creating the role of Beverly in Abigail’s Party and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice for which she won an Olivier. She was most recently seen in the West End last year in Alan Bennett's Enjoy. Her many screen credits include Shirley Valentine, Life Is Sweet, Topsy Turvy, Fat Friends, Fanny Hill and Gavin and Stacey.