The production opens first at the Theatre Royal Bath where it runs from 3 to 13 November. It then visits Brighton and Cambridge ahead of a Christmas break, reopening in February 2011 for Milton Keynes and Richmond and then transferring to the West End’s Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, for a limited season from 2 March to 18 June 2011.
Sharrock, currently enjoying acclaim for her revival of Coward contemporary Terence Rattigan's After the Dance at the National Theatre, previously directed Blithe Spirit in 2004, a production which also started life in Bath before transferring to the West End with Penelope Keith as the turban-headed psychic.
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.
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.
Alison Steadman, whose 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), was most recently seen in the West End last year in the Theatre Royal Bath revival of Alan Bennett's Enjoy, for which she was Whatsonstage.com Award nominated. Her many screen credits include Shirley Valentine, Life Is Sweet, Topsy Turvy, Fat Friends, Fanny Hill and Gavin and Stacey.