Arts & Entertainment

Actors dabble in occult with 'Blithe Spirit'

Be careful dabbling in the occult. The result could be some disturbing confrontations between a deceased wife and the woman who took her place.

That's what happens in Noel Coward's comedy, Blithe Spirit, a Richland Players production that opens May 7 at The Players Theater.

As the story unfolds, Charles Condomine, played by Paul Roy, invites a rather eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, into his country estate to introduce he and his second wife, Ruth, to the secrets of the occult. Ruth is played by Christy Batayola.

But what the medium ends up doing instead is conjuring up the spirit of Condomine's first wife, Elvira, played by Crystal Deines.

Elvira, who finds the spirit world a bit dull without Charles, arranges a car accident so Charles can be with her again. But things don't quite work out the way she planned because it's Ruth who takes the ride in the ill-fated car and ends up a ghost along with Elvira.

Now trouble for Charles really begins as the spirits of both women return to the manor house to haunt the poor man, who is bewildered by their outrageous claims that he is an astral bigamist.

Other key characters in the play include Elona Benefiel as Madame Arcati, Gloria Skogley as Mrs. Bradman, Bret Parker as Dr. Bradman and Carolyn Parker as Edith the maid.

"I fell in love with this script, which is why I had to audition (for it)," Deines said.

Bret Parker, a trained theater technician who usually works behind the spotlight, is making his Players acting debut in Blithe Spirit, and his wife Carolyn is thrilled.

"My husband finally decided to join me on stage and I'm really happy to be working with him side by side," she said.

Becky Bly, the costumer for the show, remembers the first time she saw Blithe Spirit. "This was the first show I saw in community theater as a child, and I've always been fond of it," she said.

Showtime is 8 p.m. May 7-8, 14-15, 21-22 and a 2 p.m. matinee May 16 at 610 The Parkway, Richland. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;