Angela Lansbury returns to West End in Blithe Spirit at Gielgud Theatre
Angela Lansbury is best known as intrepid murder mystery writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote. After a gap of 40 years, she returns to London to appear as Madame Arcati in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit.
It’s hard to believe Angela is nearly 90. She is in terrific shape and full of energy for the rigours of performing on stage. She puts that down to a strong inherited constitution and enormous amounts of vitamins. Whatever she’s doing, it clearly works – not many people in their late eighties would have the stamina and drive to keep working so hard. She still has a high motivation to be on stage and feels comfortable there. In her long career in movies and TV, she constantly drifted back to the theatre, and was for years an award-winning musical theatre actress. The voice training shows, as Angela still has those trademark mellifluous tones when she talks.
Blithe Spirit is Noël Coward’s masterpiece about the occult and sexual manners. When a man is haunted by his deceased wife, how can he placate his living, current wife? Madam Arcati is the unwitting medium who both causes and solves the problem, and is one of the gem roles in theatre for older women. Angela considers it no less than the best part she has ever had, and is bound to bring her depth of comedy and drama to the role.
Journalists including The Upcoming were genuinely charmed by an interview session followed by questions, in which Angela spoke of her love of the theatre and her own English-style household in America. Her family evacuated there during the war, and she started acting in films as a teenager, getting a few big breaks early on – Gaslight, National Velvet, The Picture of Dorian Grey. She also spoke frankly about difficult years when her children had problems with drugs, in the days when less help and understanding was generally available. As to being a gay icon, she is proud of that, but there is something about her which makes her an icon for gay, straight and anything. Hard to define, but she has a charisma that projects genuineness rather than dazzles.
Angela’s own actress mother debuted at Gielgud Theatre almost a century ago. It’s one of those ornate and fairly small theatres, and as run of Blithe Spirit is limited, it’s bound to be a hot ticket.
A wonderful lady in a brilliant part in a great play. What’s not to love?
Blithe Spirit will be at Gielgud Theatre from 1st March to 7th June 2014, for further information or to book visit here.