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Geyer plans a little ghostly fun

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Independent-Observer
The cast of the upcoming comedy “Blithe Spirit” includes, from left sitting are: Martha Oliver of Scottdale, Ernie and Laurie Watson of Brownsville and Michelle Rivas of Clairton. In back, from left, are: Dottie Davis of Connellsville, Keri Wardman of Brownsville and Shawn Conway of Latrobe.

Thrilling audiences with a performance written by one of America's great icons, Actors and Artists of Fayette County will present the comedy “Blithe Spirit,” a fun and entertaining classic penned by Noel Coward.

The show will be the directorial debut for Dan Pretz of California, who chose the play because of its script, wit and flow.

“It's really clever. It's well written,” Pretz said of the show. “For my first show I thought that directing a comedy would be easier and this show in particular plays to my strong points with tech.”

Pretz has an impressive background in theater, spending years both on and off the stage in numerous production, focusing on the technical aspects of productions.

Newer to the Geyer stage, Pretz was recently seen as the Cowardly Lion in the theater's June production of “The Wizard of Oz” and is now enjoying his stint off the stage and in the director's seat.

“It's coming along,” Pretz said of the show, adding he is fortunate to have such a stellar cast for his first stint as a director. “These actors are all great. They are all experienced and they are all know what they are doing. I am so lucky to have such a strong cast that has made my first experience as a director much easier for me. There is a lot of talent on that stage.”

Pretz said he wanted a show that would be appropriate for the upcoming Halloween season.

“It's an October show, so I wanted something that would be good for this time of year, but I didn't want something really scary or frightening, something more fun,” Pretz said.

The show “Blithe Spirit” opened in the West End of London in 1941 and broke records at that time for the longest running non-musical, a record that would not be broken until the classic “Mousetrap” debuted in 1957.

Telling the tale that focuses on a fun and temperamental spirit, a mediocre clairvoyant and a desperate wife, the fun in Blithe Spirit is launched when novelist Charles Condomine, played by Shawn Conway of Latrobe brings in Madame Arcati, played by Martha Oliver of Scottdale, for a seance that is being performed at that time solely for research purposes.

What transpires is the “resurrection” of Charles's first wife, much to the dismay of his present wife, whose wish is to exercise the spirit once and for all.

“This is going to be a good show,” Oliver said, adding this is the second time she has been a part of this show, but played a different role in the first performance years ago.

Oliver said the cast is well-seasoned and experienced and she has had the pleasure to work with many, while also enjoying a first time outing with others.

“There is a wonderful mixture here,” Oliver said. “I just love these folks. It's a wonderful cast.”

The show will be presented tonight through Sunday at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale. Show times will be 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. matinee Sunday. All tickets will be $10. For information, call the theater at 724-887-0887 or visit the web at

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.