Supernatural Comedy Opens Idaho Shakespeare Festival Season

May 30, 2013

Blithe Spirit rehearsal at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Blithe Spirit rehearsal at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Credit DKM Photography

The Idaho Shakespeare Festival opens its 2013 season this weekend. The organization “Americans for the Arts” estimates the festival put about $3.3 million into Idaho’s economy last year. More than 58,000 people spent an evening under the stars at the festival’s amphitheater in Boise last summer. Managers expect more than 60,000 this year.

Those 60,000 people will see five plays over the next four months. Two are by Shakespeare. There’s the progenitor of all rom coms, Much Ado About Nothing, which opens in a week. The intrigue and battle laden history Richard III starts in August. July and August will include what is probably the most anticipated show this year, the musical Sweeney Todd. The contemporary comedy The Foreigner closes the season in September. But the summer starts in 1940s England.

“What happens if the ghost of your dead wife comes back to visit you with the your present second wife?” asks Charles Fee, producing artistic director of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. “Just a crazy, wild, fun evening of theater.”

Fee is talking about Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward which he’s directing. It’s about a spiritually skeptical novelist working on a book about a murderous medium. A real medium sticks him with the ghost of his first wife. Paranormal bigamy ensues. Fee says with Blithe Spirit Coward, who he calls one of the 20th century’s best comic writers, was at the height of his skills.

“There are so many great lines in the play. They’re sort of endlessly interesting,” he says. “But the humor comes out of the relationships of the people. And his wit is the insights he brings to how people treat each other in life and in marriages and in families.”

Blithe Spirit previews Friday night with the official open Saturday. It closes in a month and runs in rotation with Much Ado About Nothing.

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