Stage Center Theatre 2012-2013 Season
Main Stage Production

Blithe Spirit
by Noel Coward
Summer of 2013

Novelist Charles Condomine has it all: a successful career, a beautiful second wife, and a house in the country. But when Madame Arcati, a local medium, conjures up the ghost of his first wife, personalities (both worldly and un-) clash, until the house is literally coming down around his ears. This smash comedy hit of the London and Broadway stage, recently revived with Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati, is a perennial favorite from the author of Private Lives and Hay Fever.

___________Director's Note___________

                    Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
                        Bird thou never wert--
                            That from heaven or near it,
                                Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to a Skylark"

Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit in 1941, at the height of the London blitz. As the German Luftwaffe bombed London, the world was quite literally coming down around his audience's ears. The theater, of course, remained a place of safety and sanity. Viewers were told that, in case of an air raid, they should feel free to leave the theatre, but the performance would continue.

Today, we have stresses of our own. The economy is struggling, violence is a constant threat, and political rancor is at an all-time high. As in Coward's day, audiences find relief in the paranormal. They read about teen wizards and sparkly vampires; on TV they watch Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Witness, and a host of similar shows. The Long Island Medium is a modern-day Madame Arcati, talking to "spirit" while raising her kids and getting her hair done. Today, Charles Condomine would be a guest on Celebrity Ghost Stories.

With all these ghosts in the air, it's a perfect time to revive Coward's classic play, and people are doing so throughout the country. The show is currently playing at the Stratford Festival; a production just closed in Evanston. The play is popping up everywhere, from New York to California, from Alabama to Idaho.

Though the play is 70 years old, there's plenty for a contemporary audience to enjoy. The language is witty and the characters are unique. So sit back and enjoy our foray into the unseen. And if an unexpected guest should appear in the seat next to you, welcome them in!

John Bliss


Colleen Bohar (Mrs. Bradman) is very excited to be in her first production at the Stage Center Theatre. Colleen started acting in community theatre while in grammar school. Though she has worked as a Certified Paralegal, she has always regretted not pursuing an acting career. She has studied Acting and Improv at The Second City while working with Michael Pieper, Andrew Gallant, Sommer Austin, Susan Hart, and Jeffrey Carlson. Colleen thanks her husband, son and mother for all their love and support.

Leslie Diaz (Edith) is a Psychology major at Northeastern Illinois University. She is excited to be in Blithe Spirit, as this is her first University play. She would like to thank John Bliss for giving her the opportunity to be in this show.

Tony Gasbarro (Dr. Bradman) is making his seventh Stage Center performance since his inauspicious 2009 debut as a corpse in Lucky Stiff. He has also been seen in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during Stage Center Theatre's 2012 season. Tony extends his most heartfelt thanks to his cast-mates Mike, Lily, BethAnn, Elizabeth, Colleen and Leslie, to director John Bliss, and, of course, to Daphne for yet another fun-filled session of make-believe.

Elizabeth Krahulec (Elvira) graduated this past May with her BA in Communication, Media and Theatre from NEIU. At the Stage Center Theatre, Elizabeth has been seen in O Come All Ye Faithful as Sue, Fuddy Meers as Gertie, The Misanthrope as Arsinoe, Jekyll and Hyde as Poole/Hyde 4 and How I Learned to Drive as Female Greek Chorus. Elizabeth would like to thank her friends, family, John Bliss for this amazing opportunity, and Lori Ralston-Dowd for introducing her to Blithe Spirit almost 15 years ago.

Mike Slas (Charles) is really excited to be involved in Blithe Spirit. He is an English major at NEIU and this is his eighth show at the Stage Center Theatre. Other shows include Fuddy Meers, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, and The Misanthrope. He would like to thank the cast, crew, and John Bliss for making the show seamless. Michael would like to especially thank Lily for everything, most importantly, for saying "Yes."

BethAnn Smukowski (Madame Arcati) is happy to be performing at NEIU after having stepped on stage here last winter as Auntie Mae in Me and Auntie Mae. Past favorite roles of hers include The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Cinderella in Cinderella, Martha in A Change in the Heir and Millie Owens in Picnic. She sends loads of love and gratitude to her family, friends, and Blithe Spirit’s wonderful cast, crew, and director for their invaluable support, and would like to dedicate her performance to Nora Louise, whom she's pretty sure she's channeling these days via the Madame.

Lily Stephens (Ruth) is delighted to be playing the role of Ruth at the Stage Center Theatre. She is an English major and Media minor at NEIU. Having graduated from the Second City Conservatory last year, Lily is excited to be returning to the world of comedy. She would like to thank her brilliant fiancé Michael Slas for being the polar opposite of Charles Condomine in their real lives. Her love goes out to all the family and friends who have supported her in this, and every other show along the way.

(L to R) Ruth (Lily Stephens), Madame Arcati (Beth Ann Smukowski), Elvira (Elizabeth Krahulec), Charles (Mike Slas)

(L to R) Ruth (Lily Stephens), Charles (Mike Slas), Elvira (Elizabeth Krahulec)

_____________Artistic Staff___________

John Bliss (Director) is making his Stage Center directing debut with Blithe Spirit, and couldn’t be happier. He teaches theatre and communication classes at NEIU. In a past life, John worked as an actor and playwright, and he is fondly remembered for his performance as the Fire Truck in his children’s theater adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit. John writes video scripts for college students and non-fiction books for young readers. His novel Time With Leo, about a teenager from the present who meets Leonardo da Vinci, was published this Spring. You really should read it. John studied Theater at Loyola University, and earned his MFA from the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Nickolena Sellen (Assistant Director) is a CMT major at Northeastern Illinois University. She has devoted her time in all facets of the Stage Centre Theatre and has loved every minute of it. She is so excited to be working on this amazing show with this amazing cast and crew. She thanks John Bliss for putting up with her and giving her this awesome opportunity. Enjoy the show.

Danny Subotich (Stage Manager) spent two years at Columbia College and is now a CMT major at Northeastern Illinois University.  He is thrilled to be to be working on his first play at the university.  Having spent most of his time on stage, he is looking forward to taking a step back and managing a production.  Danny would like to thank John Bliss and the cast for being so patient while he fumbles through his new role.

Bartholomew Webster (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be working with such a great crew! He is currently a senior at Northeastern Illinois University working toward a major in Communication, Media and Theatre. He would like to thank everyone for this amazing experience, and he looks forward to seeing the completed production.

Spencer Heck (Sound Designer) is a senior at NEIU studying for his BA in Communication, Media and Theatre. He will be graduating in December. Blithe Spirit is the first play he has worked on and would like to thank John Rodriguez and John Bliss for the opportunity.

John Rodriguez (Lighting Designer) joined the theatre faculty at NEIU eleven years ago and has been teaching courses in technical theatre as well as working as both Technical Director and Lighting Designer on Stage Center Theatre Productions.  Last Summer, John designed the set and lighting for Censored on Final Approach. And most recently, he designed lights for You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Braggart Soldier and How I Learned to Drive.   

Lizz Otto-Cramer (Scenic Designer) is happy to be making her return to NEIU after a 5 year hiatus. A graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Lizz has designed, painted, and created props for numerous theatres throughout the nation, including the Kennedy Center and Universal Studios Hollywood. She greatly enjoys working with her students and fellow faculty at NEIU, and is excited to be teaching again.

Jana Anderson (Costume Designer) has worked with the Stage Center Theatre for the last few years. Her work has also been featured by numerous theatre groups including Redmoon Theatre, Light Opera Works, and Irish Repertory Theatre, to name a few. Prior to coming to the United States, Jana created elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. When she’s not preparing costumes for theatre productions, Jana is busy designing and creating unique haute couture fashions for individual clients in the US and Europe.

___________Production Staff___________
Producer...............................Rodney Higginbotham
Assistant Producer.......................Kristina Saldarelli
Director.......................................................John Bliss
Assistant Director..........................Nickolena Sellen
Stage Manager.................................Danny Subotich
Assistant Stage Manager.........Bartholomew Webster
Scenic Designer...........................Lizz Otto-Cramer
Costume Designer............................Jana Anderson
Lighting Designer...........................John Rodriguez
Sound Designer..................................Spencer Heck
Light Board Operator...............Piotr Dawlidowicz
Sound Board Operator........................Dan Garrett
Run Crew...................Sue Ellen Colon and Lauren Gonzalez
Set Construction...........Summer Theatre Students

__________Theatre Personnel__________
Managing Artistic Director - Rodney Higginbotham
Theatre Bookkeeper - Kristina Saldarelli
Photographer & Graphic Designer - Cody Barbu
House Manager - Elizabeth Cristobal
Box Office Staff - Larisa Bocka and Maciej Mardosz

Blithe Spirit was presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.