The Keystone Players will open its latest production, “Blithe Spirit,” a comedy by Noel Coward, with a sold- out performance March 22 in the Keystone College Brooks Theatre.
The evening is underwritten by an anonymous benefactor and dedicated to Keystone College President Dr. Edward G. Boehm, who plans to retire June 1, and First Lady Regina Boehm. It will conclude with a special presentation and reception in their honor.
“My student actors and I wanted to thank the Boehms for their steadfast and enthusiastic support of The Keystone Players and theatre in general all these years,” said Jane Honchell, director. “Not only have the Boehms attended almost every production, but they also have been wonderful about sending notes of support to the cast, often accompanied by gift baskets of edible goodies, which the students always devour instantly.”
Boehm confirmed his support of and pride in the Keystone Players, saying, “The student theatre has always played a critical role in the life of Keystone College. During our nearly 18 years on campus, Keystone First Lady Regina Boehm and I have been amazed at the talent and dedication of the Keystone Players, under the expert direction of Associate Professor Jane Honchell.”
“In addition to entertaining and inspiring their audiences,” he continued, “The Keystone Players demonstrate time and again that excellence can indeed be obtained through desire and hard work. They are a great source of pride for the Keystone community and our entire area.”
According to cast member and Keystone College graduate Brink Powell, who has performed in at least one Keystone Players production since joining as a freshman in 2007, the “Blithe Spirit” cast is one of the top two she’s worked with so far. She said the group “goes above and beyond” and succeeds in “making the play real.”
She said she enjoys working with the rest of the cast, and is excited to play opposite Joseph Croft, with whom she first acted alongside when they were in a high school play at Lackawanna Trail.
“Everything he does he puts his all into,” she said.
She said she also enjoys acting under the direction of Honchell.
“Jane is a wonderful person,” she said. “I have learned so much from her…she’s understanding, teaches you so much and she encouraging.”
In “Blithe Spirit,” Powell plays the part of Ruth, an overbearing wife who likes to have her own way and isn’t happy when things aren’t in her control.
According to a Keystone Players news release, when Ruth’s husband, Charles Condomine, played by Joseph Croft, hosts a séance to gather material for a novel, his life is thrown into disarray. Madame Arcati, played by Julia Rusavage, conjures up the mischievous spirit of Charles’ late wife, Elvira, played by Heather Bixby.
“Chaos and hilarity ensue,” states the release, “as Charles struggles to keep the peace between his second, and very much alive wife, Ruth, and Elvira.”
“Adding to the fun are the Condomine’s guests at the séance, Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, played by Josh Harris and Karen McKenna. Edith the Condomine’s new maid, played by Jackie Nat, provides another delightful touch as she goes about her duties at warp speed.”
McKenna, who is performing with the Keystone Players for the first time in this production, described her character as “ditsy” and “gullible.”
“I’m just going to have a lot of fun with [the part],” she said, later adding, “It is a really, really fun play.”
She said she also enjoys working with Honchell and the rest of the cast. “They are very talented,” she said. “I feel humbled by their talent.”
McKenna, 52, hasn’t performed in more than 30 years and said she is “very excited” about this production. She encourages others who have a past love for the theater and acting to pursue it and get involved in a local theatre.
“It’s never too late to pursue something you love,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to try to do something new. It’s been an amazing experience for me.”
A limited number of tickets for the show March 23 and 24 are available by contacting Honchell at [email protected] or calling 945.8454. They will also be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. General admission is $8 and for senior citizens and children under 12, the cost is $4.