BLITHE SPIRIT by Noel Coward

BLITHE SPIRIT by Noel Coward  Directed by Valerie Gardener Rives

Performances:  May 5, 6, 10, 12 & 13 at The Rex Theatre in Galax



(far left) Karen Gronback Johnson, (back row l to r) Danny Linehan, Valerie Gardner Rives & Patrick Butler, (front row l to r) Kathi Linehan, Sue Revels, Rose Warshana & Susan O’Connor

If ghostly visitations, wacky mediums and matrimonial hijinks are your cup of tea, then Noel Coward’s high-spirited comedy, “Blithe Spirit” is the play you need to see!  Running May 5, 6, 10, 12, & 13 at the Rex Theatre in Galax, “Blithe Spirit” is full of humor, witty repartee and special effects.  “Blithe Spirit” is a classic comedy offering up fussy, cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine, re-married but haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, the clever and insistent Elvira who is called up by a visiting “happy medium,” one Madame Arcati along with a host of other marvelous character.

Performance Dates for “Blithe Spirit” are May 5, 6, 10, 12 & 13 with Thursday & Saturday shows at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm.  Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for Seniors and Students.  Advance tickets are available on-line at and at Chestnut Creek School of the Arts.

The cast of “Blithe Spirit” features long-time favorite performers and several newcomers with actors hailing from Fancy Gap, Lambsburg, Galax, Whitetop and even Sparta, NC.  A special “unseen” actress is the voice of Freddie Schwing in an original recording of “Always.”  Freddie is the Mother of cast member Kathi Linehan.


Valerie Gardner Rives – Director

This is Valerie’s third production with The Arts Council, having directed “The World of Carl Sandburg” as well as serving as an acting coach and narrator for “Tales of Terror.”  She has been an actor, stage manager, and director for over 40 years.  Her career highlight was as Associate Director for the 2001 Tony Award-winning revival of “42nd Street” and the 1st national tour of “42nd Street”.  She also directed the 2nd national tour of “42nd Street”  which opened in Tokyo.


Patrick Butler – Charles Condomine

Patrick Butler has performed in numerous productions through the years ranging from historical dramas, to broad farces, and even to children’s theater. He has received numerous accolades for those roles, as well.  “His turn as Elwood P. Dowd in “Harvey” was as invisible as the rabbit,” raved one reviewer.  Another fawned about Patrick’s turn as Starbuck in “The Rainmaker”, “he was as dry and stiff as the Kansas prairie in which it was set.” And one keen-eyed critic brightly noted about Patrick’s portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham in the kids’ version of “Robin Hood”, “talk about stealing from the poor (performances)!”  Patrick remarks that playing Charles was pure typecasting, as the character himself is debonair, suave, witty, urbane, and totally sophisticated: “I was born to play Charles!” His cast mates agree:  Ruth: “As far as waspish female psychology goes, there’s a strong vein of it in him.”  Elvira: “He does have a certain seedy grandeur.”  Patrick is certain the audience will leave mesmerized by the whole production, sensing they will feel as he does that “parting will be such sweet sorrow.”

Karen Gronback Johnson – Madame Arcati

Karen Gronback Johnson and husband, Michael, retired and moved to Lambsburg from CT almost two years ago. They had been camping in the area and fell in love with its beauty and its people.  Karen has not been in a show for many years, but in the past has played such roles as The Actress in “LaRonde,” the Duchess of York in “Richard III,” Titania in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,” Lady Chevaly in “An Ideal Husband,” Grace Shelley in “The Ruling Class,” and Prince John in “A Lion in Winter.” Karen is also a poet, currently working with Ridgeline Writers; they are hosting a reading of poetry and prose at Chestnut Creek School of the Arts on May 17 at 7:00. Y’all come!


Kathi Linehan – Edith, the Maid

Kathi was involved in theater productions in Pennsylvania during her high school years, but was only sporadically involved during her 30-year career as a Cardiovascular and Trauma ICU RN. While raising two sons, she performed in church productions in California, directed performances of teens on mission trips to Mexico, and played bass guitar during services. When her husband, Danny, became a teacher, she changed her specialty to School Nurse for 7 years. She is now a self-employed RN, offering Holistic Nursing Services and educational programs, and is an active community volunteer. After moving to Sparta, NC, 4 years ago, she has devoted time to her love of acting, beginning with the Alleghany Community Theater (ACT) 2014 production of “Angel Street”, in the role of the maid, Elizabeth. She has subsequently performed with ACT in “Murder at the Banquet”, “The Ransom of Emily Jane”, and “Death and Taxes”. In the fall of 2015, she performed as Big Mama in the Ashe County Little Theater production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. Kathi is thrilled to be working with Valarie and the talented actors in this production, and appreciates the opportunity to perfect her portrayal of a maid. “It brings me a special joy to have my mother’s recording of the song Always featured in the play. Though she has passed over to the Other Side, it feels as if she is performing with me.”

Danny Linehan – Dr. Bradman

Danny Linehan, currently the librarian at Fries School, is also a teacher, poet, writer, and moderator of Voices of Alleghany, an open mic forum for writers and poets in Sparta, NC. Danny lives in Sparta with his wife Kathi and their dogs, Shadow and Sunny. He also acts, beginning with a frightening turn as young Ebenezer Scrooge in a 6th Grade production of “A Christmas Carol.” His acting range had all the fluidity of a coat rack. He left acting behind, though, in his many years of customer service and teaching, he has put on some great performances. Moving to Sparta four years ago with Kathi, he followed her into Alleghany Community Theater (ACT), first doing set work, and then performing in productions of “Murder at the Banquet,” “Death and Taxes,” and most recently in “The Little Prince,” growing a bit more comfortable with each turn. I do wish to thank our director, Valerie Rives, for allowing me to be in this wonderful production, and be part of the outstanding cast she’s assembled. This has been a great experience.

Susan O’Connor – Violet Bradman

Susan has a wide and varied theater experience. She has done many plays and musicals, starting her acting in grade school. Most recently, she has performed in The Crucible, Cats, and It’s a Wonderful Life in Galax and Continental Divide in Sparta. She practices dentistry in Galax. She sings regularly with her church choir and intermittently with the Highland Camerata.


Sue Revels – Elvira Condomine

Sue is so honored to be cast in the role of Elvira in the Arts Council of the Twin Counties’ 2018 production of Noel Coward’s, “Blithe Spirit.” Sue first started in productions at The Rex as Nellie in ”Some Enchanted Evening: The Music of Rogers and Hammerstein.”  She was then cast as Mary Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”. She played Chelsea Wayne Thayer in the recent production of “On Golden Pond” at the beautiful 1908 Courthouse in Independence, VA, and was also in “The World of Carl Sandburg” and the 2017 production of “Tales of Terror.” During her short acting career, she has been blessed to work with so many talented actors, directors, producers, and crews. “Thank you to each of you for making each play such a memorable experience for not only me, but for each person who comes to see a production! You’re ALL amazingly talented!”  Sue and her husband, Thomas (Supervisor, Wilson District), live in Whitetop with their furry clan: Deacon, Runt, Dillon, Tigre, and Bianca . . . And five, but soon to be 12, chickens! Life is good in the mountains!  Sue dedicates this performance to her Daddy, Walt Duensing, who was a very talented writer, actor, and poet. He “passed over” in 2013. I love you, Daddy.


Rose Warshana – Ruth Condomine

Rose is a Carroll County native, from down below the mountain as we say in these parts. She is the mother of three- Moses, Ebrahim and Salaam and the co-owner of Pizza-Perfect on Main in Hillsville. She is part of the Talent and Development team at the Results Companies.   Rose recently played ‘Carrie’ in Cherry Orchard Theater’s original production, ‘A Dangerous Woman’, and was a part of ‘The Dead Speak’ last October.  Rose is excited to take to the stage as ‘Ruth’.

We’re also looking for people interested in helping out backstage during performances, stage managing, running lights and sound, helping with props and costumes and building and painting the set.  If you love the theatre and have the urge to be a part of the magic, please come to the auditions and sign up for one of the ‘crews.’ For more information call 276-238-1217.

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