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July 2008

Release Date: July 15, 2008

Arts at ASU’s ‘Blithe Spirit’ Scares Up Laughs

Angelo State University’s Arts at ASU presents Noel Coward’s classic comedy, “Blithe Spirit,” for its second Summer Dinner Theatre July 31-Aug. 3 and Aug. 7-9 in the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building’s Modular Theatre, 2602 Dena Drive.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m. with dinner served at 7 p.m. Performances begin at 8 p.m. A matinee performance is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Aug. 3, with dinner at 1 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for non-ASU students and Arts at ASU subscribers; and $12.50 for ASU students and ASU activity card holders. All tickets must be purchased in advance.

Coward weaves an ingenious plot about novelist Charles Condomine who invites an eccentric lady medium into his placid country home to teach him the language of the occult. Charles and his second wife, Ruth, get more than they bargained for when a s�ance staged by the medium summons Charles’ first wife, Elvira, now dead for seven years.

The lady from beyond is still attractive and mischievous. She appears only to Charles and torments him by recalling their time together. Ruth doesn’t believe they are being haunted until she is handed a floating vase out of thin air. That convinces Ruth that Charles is not losing his mind and that his first wife’s ghost is in the room. How Charles manages to extricate himself from this “blithe spirit” makes a hilarious conclusion to this unusual farce.

“Coward invented the convention of a ghost being in the room that only one person can see and hear – and the hilarious implications that result for him when he converses with it while others are in earshot,” said James Worley, ASU associate professor of drama and play director. “Things get even more out of hand for him when this mischievous spirit wants to help him join her in the afterlife.”

Charles is played by Mason Cargile, who was last seen on the ASU stage as Jack in the “Boys Next Door,” earlier this summer. The ASU junior is in his seventh main stage show to go along with three studio productions. He has also appeared in “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Proof,” “Pippin,” “The Liar,” “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday” and “Fuddy Mears.”

San Angeloan Norma Allie Perez plays Elvira. She last performed as Sleeping Beauty in “Into the Woods.” She also has appeared in “All My Sons” and in various poetry and public speaking events.

Amanda Rickman plays Edith, Charles’ maid. Rickman has performed a variety of roles on stage and worked behind the scenes for several ASU productions. She was costume manager for “Into the Woods,” played Latife in “The Beauty Inside,” was stage manager for “Destiny Leaves a Lot to the Human Genome Project” and played the mom in “Mrs. The Elephant Man.”

Angela Douangkesone, who plays Ruth, is a sophomore at the University of Texas in Austin. Douangkesone has been involved in shows at San Angelo Central High School, the Angelo Civic Theatre and ASU Theatre. She participates for the fun of it, Worley said.

Other cast members include senior German major David Pederson (Dr. Bradman), Del Rio’s Laurie Proveaux (Mrs. Bradman) and senior Chrysti Friar (Madame Arcati).

Matt Smith is the technical director and lighting designer, Eldra Sanford is the costumer and costume designer, Annie Corcoran is stage manager and Rickman is assistant stage manager.

“My cast and crew are working feverishly, but enthusiastically, to bring this show to life,” Worley said. “I’m proud of the effort that the actors are putting into learning the British dialect and mannerisms of 1940s English high-society – and equally proud of the technicians’ work to bring to life the interior of a British manor house. There is a lot to do in a few short weeks, but it’s all beginning to come together.”

Worley is a home-grown educator, having earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in drama from ASU. He also taught at Oklahoma Baptist University and served two years as a professional designer, stage manager and technician in New York at the Juilliard School of Drama, the Roundabout Theatre Company and Daedalus Professional Tours.

He returned to San Angelo as technical director and resident designer at Angelo Civic Theatre. After a stint in Dallas as technical director for Southwest Studios, Worley completed work on his Master of Fine Arts in Directing at the University of Texas at Austin. Since returning to ASU, he has directed 33 productions.

The play’s author, Coward, was an English actor, playwright and composer of popular music. Among his writing credits are “Bitter Sweet,” “Cavalcade” and “Still Life,” which was expanded into the David Lean film, “Brief Encounter.” Coward’s acting credits include the films “Bunny Lake is Dead,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “The Italian Job.”

Arts at ASU subscribers can make reservations for “Blithe Spirit” starting Thursday, July 17, in the ASU box office. Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, July 21. The box office is open from 2-6 p.m. weekdays in the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building. For reservations, call 942-2000.

For more information on the production and cast, contact Worley in the ASU Drama Department at 942-2146, ext. 241.