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ASTC presents Noel Coward comedy "Blithe Spirit"

The American Southwest Theatre Company at New Mexico State University will open the 1999-2000 season with a lighthearted, fanciful British comedy, "Blithe Spirit," running Sept. 24 to Oct. 3.

Written by Noel Coward in 1941, "Blithe Spirit" is a comedy about death in which the dead refuse to stay dead and return to haunt the living. Novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife, Ruth, invite a psychic to hold a seance at their house. Although he is simply trying to gather research for a book on spiritualism, Condomine's life goes awry when the psychic, Madame Arcati, conjures the spirit of Elvira, his first wife.

Set in Condomine's drawing room, "Blithe Spirit" is a highly comical, quick-witted, fast-thinking sort of play, said Timothy Pinnow, director of ASTC's production of the play.

"Noel Coward is wonderfully energetic," Pinnow said. "I hope the audiences leave the play with a feeling of being at a high-energy, sophisticated party. Blithe Spirit' really effervesces."

The cast of "Blithe Spirit" is composed entirely of students. NMSU freshman Toby Minor stars as Charles Condomine, junior Daniela Vestal plays Ruth Condomine and junior Christa Popovich plays Elvira. Madame Arcati is played by junior Kellene Rees.

Costume designer Deb Brunson gives the play an elegant look with period costumes that look much like movie stars of the 30s and 40s, said Pinnow.

"Blithe Spirit" will run Sept. 24 to Oct. 3 at the Hershel Zohn Theatre at NMSU. Curtain times are 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices range from $5.50 to $10.75 each.

A special dinner and theater package will be offered at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at Lorenzo's Restaurant at 741 North Alameda. Pinnow and cast members will talk about "Blithe Spirit" during dinner and the play will follow at 8 p.m. at the Hershel Zohn Theatre. Tickets are $30 for the dinner and play and can be purchased from the ASTC Box Office. For season flyers, mailers and ticket information, contact the ASTC Ticket Office at (505) 646-4515 or 1-800-525-ASTC.