Angela Lansbury has returned to British theater for the first time since 1975, making it 39 years since she performed on stage in the UK.
“I couldn’t believe that they would even consider doing such a thing. I think it was an awful mistake and it was a terrible disservice. I have too much admiration for [Octavia Spencer] to saddle her with the awful responsibility of having to bring that title into a different venue.”
Angela Lansbury worked in that series for 12 years, ending in 1996. But even at age 88 Lansbury is still working, appearing on stage in London’s West End for Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. She played the role of Madame Arcati, who is a medium engaged in what’s described as a supernatural farce. Several sceptics invite the medium to dinner in order to mock her abilities only to be astonished when she accidentally conjures up the ghost of the first wife of the novelist Charles Condomine. Needless to say, the newest wife is not too happy with suddenly having competition.
Writing for the Telegraph, Charles Spencer has given Lansbury a five-star rating for her performance:
“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. Her voice swoops and soars with superb grandeur and her extraordinary dance routine, in which she seems physically to vibrate as she goes into a trance, is a wonder to behold. This is a tour de force that will glow warmly in the memory of all who see it.”
The Independent’s Paul Taylor gave the actress a four-star review, saying:
“With her red Princess Leia-style coiffure and clashing arty-meets-hearty wardrobe, Lansbury’s Madame A is a quivering, deliciously erratic blend of bohemian lady novelist and girl guide. It’s the way, though, that she emphasises the medium’s batty and strangely admirable self-belief that makes her portrayal so funny and endearing.”
What do you think about Angela Lansbury still performing on the stage even at age 88?
[Image via Dominic Lipinski/PA]