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Starring in Theatre Baton Rouge's 'Blithe Spirit' are, front, Jennifer Johnson as Madame Arcati, and, back from left, Victoria Clement as Elvira, Brandon Guillory as Charles and Lily McGill as Ruth.

Theatre Baton Rouge will stage a different kind of love story when it opens "Blithe Spirit" on April 23.

The classic Noel Cowart comedy pits former wife Elvira against current wife Ruth, both of whom are vying for the love of husband Charles.

But there's a twist: Elvira died seven years ago and has returned as a spirit seen only by Charles.

But that's what stirs the laughs in "Blithe Spirit," something director Clay Donaldson said is needed as the end of the coronavirus pandemic draws closer.

"When we started talking about putting together this season, we knew we wanted to put some comedy in between the heavier dramas we'd be doing," Donaldson said. "And now that it is spring, we need something lighter."

Brandon Guillory plays novelist Charles, who invites medium and clairvoyant Madame Arcati, played by Jennifer Johnson, to his living room for a seance in the hope of gathering information for his next book. Madame Arcati is eccentric yet legitimate, and her session is a success.

Maybe it's too successful. Arcati not only reaches into the spirit world, she opens the door to the spirit of the deceased Elvira, played by Victoria Clement.

Neither Arcati or Ruth, played by Lily McGill, can see Elvira. But Charles can, which gives Elvia the impetus for mischief.

"Elvira is much different from Ruth," Clement said. "She was happy-go-lucky, and she loved to have a good time."

But Charles was older when he remarried, and the prim-and-proper Ruth seemed to better suit his settled lifestyle.

Elvira won't have it. She wants Charles for herself, so she harasses Ruth until a fatal mistake changes the entire dynamic of this triangle.

Madame Arcati, however, is quite pleased with her work.

"She's happy that she was able to summon this spirit," Johnson said. "So, she counts this as a success until she sees how it's affecting Charles and Ruth."

The cast is having fun with the play, Donaldson said, adding that, for the first time since then pandemic began, the production will include an intermission with a bar.

"It's something we all need," the director said.


'Blithe Spirit'

WHEN: April 23-25, April 29-May 2. Performances at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Theatre Baton Rouge's Main Stage, 7155 Florida Blvd.

TICKETS/INFO: $30.75, $24.75, students. (225) 924-6496, theatrebr.org.


Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com