Angela Lansbury: Rave Reviews for Return to Stage in 'Blithe Spirit'

Image: Angela Lansbury: Rave Reviews for Return to Stage in 'Blithe Spirit'

Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 12:48 PM

By Nick Sanchez

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After nearly 40 years away from the British stage, Angela Lansbury's return to a West End production of "Blithe Spirit" has been hailed as a triumph by critics and show-goers alike.

According to the BBC, "The 88-year-old actress, who plays eccentric medium Madame Arcati, drew a massive round of applause when she arrived on stage on Tuesday's opening night at the Gielgud Theatre."

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In a glowing review of the show, The Independent's Paul Taylor described the 88-year-old's accumulated status in her home country.

"The public has firmly (and understandably) decided to accord her the status of National Treasure," he wrote.  

According to Time Out's Andrzej Lukowsk, Dame Angela "even gets a hand when she bumbles back off."

The praise heaped on her performance and the show overall reflects the sentiments of U.S. audiences when she won her fifth Tony Award for the same role on Broadway five years ago.

The Daily Express points out that, "She had seen neither the play nor the film version starring Margaret Rutherford before taking the role on Broadway five years ago. That may be what makes her performance so fresh, breathing life into the age-old puzzle of whether psychics are knowing charlatans or if they are cracked enough to believe their own hokum."

Reminiscing about all of Lansbury's past performances, Charles Spencer of The Telegraph wrote, "Thirty-five years ago I remember being bowled over by Lansbury's performance as Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd on Broadway. She brings a similar energy and high-definition wit to Madame Arcati."

He also expresses his admiration for the older Lansbury's collaboration with director Michael Blakemore, who is 85. Blakemore has also received near universal acclaim for the entire production, a revival of Noel Coward's classic comedy.

Giving the play five stars, The Daily Mail described Dame Angela's performance as "perfec ... makes it look effortless."

Lansbury became most famous in 1984 with her starring role as Jessica Fletcher on television's "Murder, She Wrote." After the series ended in the late 1990s she returned to the stage.

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