Thursday, July 28, 2016

High Spirits

Last night I saw the new Ghostbusters movie. I loved the cast and their banter. I was disappointed in the ghosts. The designs were generic and they behaved like bosses in a video game. If the franchise continues I'd like to see more interplay between the ghosts and mortals.

This made me think of the musical High Spirits. Noel Coward agreed to direct this adaption of his play Blithe Spirit though he eventually ceded control to Gower Champion. The supporting role of Madam Arcati, the medium, was expanded for comedienne Beatrice Lillie. Sadly Lillie was in ill health and would improvise large portions of her dialogue. This delighted audiences but enraged Coward.

Elvira, the ghostly wife, gets a fun establishing song: You Better Love Me While You May. The rest of the score is pleasant but forgettable. The play gets regular revivals while the musical is largely forgotten.

"As Coward surely meant it, however, it presents a homosexual whose closet marriage is destroyed by the reappearance of an old boy friend." ~ Ethan Mordden, Open a New Window

Even if “High Spirits” had no other attractions—and it has a stageful—it would be cause for celebration. It has brought back Beatrice Lillie. ~ Howard Taubman, New York Times.

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