Between our anniversary and Jump Back Ball, Scott and I decided to make a mini Cleveland vacation out of last weekend. So we extended our stay at the PlayhouseSquare Wyndham to include both Friday and Saturday nights.
While Scott’s ideal vacation plan was to take a night off to relax in the hotel, mine was an evening out at the theatre for Great Lakes Theater’s Social Media Night.
I’ve been a longtime fan of Great Lakes Theater since I started blogging 3 years ago. (You’ll find links to a few of my favorite GLT experiences at the end of this post.) But it had been about a year or so since I’d been back.
Last Friday’s performance of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit was the perfect reunion.
Written in the 1940s during the height of the London blitz, Blithe Spirit is a glittering, witty escapist comedy about – of all things – death.
When novelist Charles Condomine (modeled very much after Coward’s larger-than-life personality) hosts a seance, things get a little strange.
Charles suddenly finds himself face to face with his deceased wife Elvira. A spirited woman in life, she’s even more so in death – much to the chagrin of his current wife Ruth.
Both the script and the actors’ performances radiated with British charm and banter.
The humorous high-brow manners of Ruth, Charles and their cocktail party guests are at their funniest when contrasted against the riotous medium Madame Arcati or the sparkling Elvira. I loved seeing how a proper facade would crumble quickly in their presence.
In particular, Laurie Birmingham’s unrestrained portrayal of the eccentric, hula-dancing Arcati steals your attention whenever she’s on stage.
A trip to Great Lakes Theater always promises more than just a show. With pre- and post-show programming like Salon Thursdays and Nightcap Saturdays, there is always a good reason to get to the beautiful Hanna Theatre ninety minutes early. And after the curtain closes, you can stick around to grab a drink at the bar inside the theatre.
Given the characters’ penchant for well-mannered gatherings, Blithe Spirit’s Social Media Night featured two ingredients for a successful cocktail party: proper etiquette and a proper cocktail.
Coward loved his martinis. In Woody Allen’s Manhattan, one of the characters jokes “I feel like we’re in a Noel Coward play. Someone should be making martinis.”
So before Blithe Spirit, we were treated to a martini demonstration and tasting. A fan of both gin and olives, the dirty martini I got was a nice treat.
This was followed by a presentation from Cleveland School of Etiquette‘s Colleen Harding on how to navigate a modern cocktail party.
My favorite tips from the evening included why you should avoid stemless wine glasses (the body heat from your hand will raise the temperature of your white wine) and always use your left-hand to carry your drink (a wet right hand makes for a bad handshake).
Coward was once asked how he expected to be remembered. His response: “By my charm.” I think the audience for Blithe Spirit will think the same of Great Lakes Theater.
Blithe Spirit runs until March 10. You can save $10 on most tickets by using discount code NEO. Purchase Blithe Spirit tickets here.
In conjunction with their Spring shows, Great Lakes Theater is currently also hosting its free outreach tour. An imagined prequel to Much Ado About Nothing, David Hansen’s Double Heart envisions the early courtship of Shakespeare’s Beatrice and Benedict.
The free annual outreach tour is playing at different Cleveland locations now through March 6. After enjoying last year’s Poirot outreach tour, I’d definitely recommend catching it. Plus, who doesn’t love free theatre?
Want to read more about Great Lakes Theater? Check out these posts:
- The Art of Engagement: Great Lakes Theater
- John Lithgow, Teller of Tales
- No Offending Shadows: Midsummer Night’s Dream and Bat Boy
- Othello: Great Lakes Theater Returns with a Vengeance
- An Ideal Husband: An Ideal Complement to Othello
- Two Gentlemen of Verona and Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)