Geoff Burns

Geoff Burns

Actors getting into the Spirit

Richard Rowberry directs one of theatre's most famous ghost stories which will take the stage at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson this weekend.

The upcoming presentation of one of theatre’s most famous ghost stories has called on past actors to create what director and producer Richard Rowberry said “has got to be the closest to ‘big city’ standards” as he’s ever achieved in Nelson.

The cast of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit includes Jane Sinclair, Ruby Truly and Trafalgar Middle School principal Geoff Burns.

“I’ve acted on the stage here before when I was a drama teacher at L.V. Rogers,” said Burns.

“But then I went into administration 5½ years ago, and I was doing my master’s at the time. It was a new job and there was no way I could do something as demanding as a play.”

But now with several years under his belt and his master’s complete, Burns felt ready to get back into the spotlight.

When Rowberry phoned him and asked him to be part of Blithe Spirit, he was excited by the opportunity.

“The experience of being back on the stage has been so much fun,” said Burns. “It’s a huge time commitment. But I haven’t gone home at the end of the day going ‘Dear God, why have I been doing this?’ It’s always been ‘Man this is really great fun. I’m glad that we’re doing this.’ It’s been a real treat for me.”

Burns plays Charles, the leading male role in the production.

“In some ways Charles is really a foil for all that goes on in the play,” he said. “I’m on stage most of the time but really the entertainment is done around me as it were. I’m like the straight man for all the comic stuff that’s going on all around me. But I’m the guy who gets to have two wives for the evening so that’s pretty fun.”

Charles is a writer who invites an eccentric medium (played by Ruby Truly) to dinner and inadvertently summons the ghost of his first wife (played by Jane Sinclair) to the consternation of his second wife (played by Jen Viens).

“There’s a few things that aren’t really likable about Charles,” said Burns. “He is a novelist so I guess on some level he is creative. He’s an interesting character because in some ways he’s very self-centred, but he has a sense of fun about him as well.”

Much of Charles’ personality is reflective of the time in which Blithe Spirit is set.

“Part of it is because the play takes place in the 1930s. He’s very condescending to his wives, but not mean spirited. He’s gruff around them as well,” said Burns.

Something he has really enjoyed about working on the play has been working with past students.

“Sarah Jane Hicks, Joel Cottingham, and Gillian Lippert are all former students of mine. That’s really fun to get to work with them as well. They’re just so mature in their work now, it’s fantastic.”

Blithe Spirit opens tonight at the Capitol Theatre but Burns isn’t feeling stage fright.

“I’m feeling oddly calm about opening night,” he said. “Tuesday night was the tech run and that’s always a huge challenge, so after tonight [Wednesday] I may be going ‘Dear God,’ because there are so many details being added in at the last minute. Hopefully that won’t be the case. We’re more or less ready. It can always be polished more. It can never be a finished product of course. But overall I don’t think opening night will be too bad.”

In addition to tonight’s 8 p.m. presentation, Blithe Spirit will also be on stage  Thursday, November 3 to Saturday, November 5 at 8 p.m.

For ticket information contact the Capitol Theatre.