"Blithe Spirit," Noel Coward's smash comedy hit, will open Friday night in the intimate arena setting of the Studio Theatre.
The Director Directing the show is George L. Stoughton, who has been with FJC Theatre Arts Department since 1961. He is particularly well-qualified to produce the British comedy, having studied and produced British plays, both here and in England, for many years. This is his third English show since his return from his 1968-69 sabbatical in England, where he studied the British theatre scene.
Asked his reason for the revival of the Coward comedy, Stoughton said, "When 'Blithe Spirit' first made its way to the London stage, England was engaged in a lifeanddeath struggle with Hitler's war machine. There was only gratitude for the kind of relief offered by such a brilliant farce. Although we today are not engaged n such a critical situation as faced the Britons, we do find ourselves in a time where much the same need exists. I think we all need to return to the theatre for no other purpose than to be entertained."
Stoughton is a perfectionist whose disciplines reflect in polish long before dress rehearsals. His methods of direction are unusual in that he briefs each performer in the beginning, setting up exacting guidelines for bringing reality to the characterizations. After this early orientation, he allows each one to develop his role in the light of individual interpretation of that instruction.
Serious illness, which has hospitalized Rose Roselinsky, who was originally assigned the role of Madame Arcati, has necessitated a change in casting. Diane Perez, before cast as Mrs. Bradman, now plays the part of the eccentric medium.
Joining the cast as Mrs. Bradman is Kendra Davis.
Jeanne Rowe, who played Medy Le Rue in FJC's summer musical, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," is cast in the role of Elvira.
Ruth Condomine is played by Cordelia Moore. While attending La Habra High School, she received "Best Supporting Actress" and "Best Thespian" awards, and has been active in all theatre arts productions since enrolling at FJC.
Ron Coffman, who comes to FJC from Sunny Hills High School, where he was very active in drama, plays the part of Charles Condomine. A theatre arts major, he has appeared in numerous FJC plays, and also worked in all aspects of production.
Dr. Bradman is played by Ron Steed, a speech student from Anaheim High School.
This ingenious comedy, which has delighted theatre-goers since its opening night in London, explores the occult. The novelist, Charles Condomine, invites an uninhibited, breezy lady medium into his home in order to learn the language of "other world" mysticism.
With the zany Madame Arcati calling the plays, it is hilariously funny. Aided by her special "intermediary," a ."child" departed from this vale of tears since before the turn of the century, the mystic manages to conjur up a new twist in the eternal triangle - a husband, a wife and a ghost.
The result, to quote one reviewer, is about as cockeyed as a play can be and still stay on stage!
An elaborately complete set, in keeping with a fresh and modern feeling of the play, has been designed by Todd V. Glen, FJC technical director. Under his direction, construction has been completed by theatre arts students.
George D. Archambeault is managing publicity and tickets, while Winston Butler, newest member of FJC Theatre Arts Department, is supervising costumes and makeup.
Student assist to the director is Mike La Valley.
Performances in Studio Theatre will be Jan. 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.
Admission is $1.50 for adults and $1.00 for students. Special group rates will be quoted upon request