Blithe Spirit Florida School of the Arts presents the hilariously haunting comedy “Blithe Spirit”

Florida School of the Arts opens its 2015-16 performing arts season with a performance that escorts the ideals of love and marriage on a comical, British romp to the "other side.”
Novelist and socialite Charles Condomine gets more than he bargained for in the comedy "Blithe Spirit,” as the research he intended to gather for his next book backfires and suddenly becomes a tale of two wives.
The play runs October 1 - 3 at 7:30 p.m. and October 4 at 2:30 p.m. on the Main Stage located on the St. Johns River State College Palatka campus. Admission is $5.
According to FloArts instructor and play director Patricia Crotty, the play explores the dynamics of what would happen if two marriages were to collide. The story unfolds when an eccentric medium accidentally conjures up the ghost of the main character’s first wife, who then begins to wreak havoc on his current marriage. To make matters worse, he is the only one who can hear or see his former, temperamental bride.

The story continues to spiral on an unearthly but amusing path, all at Charles’ expense.
According to Crotty, the family-friendly production written by Noel Coward is set in the 1930s and has presented a fun era for the students to explore, including areas such as technology and trends. “It’s a very different world for them," she said.

FloArts scenic and lighting design professor Robert O'Leary said Coward's play has taken its place in theatre history. "It is a well-crafted English comedy that became an escape of sorts for terror-stricken audiences during World War II,” O’Leary said. “Opening in 1941, it ran for almost 2,000 performances.”

According to O'Leary, the set reflects the design of a slightly older time period than the play’s setting. "Perhaps decorated by his first wife, with some tidbits of the Art Nouveau style throughout," he said. "Students have created furniture and custom molding, as well as many other details, to give the real feel of this style to the audience.  There should also be a bit of magic as the crew works diligently to “haunt” the set with some fun moments during the show."
Audience members can expect special effects by FloArts student and award-winning lighting designer Ashlee Philpott that allow for both the bright comedy as well as for the "spooktackular" effects.

O'Leary said Palatka student Chris Gaston, the play's sound designer and engineer, has created sounds that will not only take the audience back to the 1930s, but also into the world of ghosts.

O'Leary added that Jason Corriea, the play's technical director, has demonstrated great leadership in directing the scene shop and technical crews during the construction and operation of the many tricks and moving parts of the scenery.

Lead designer Jade Campbell and fellow costume design students are experimenting with a new makeup technique that will help them achieve a consistent and convincingly ghostly result each night. According to FloArts costume shop manager Tracy Floyd, airbrush makeup is a technique that allows students to achieve a sheer, a high-definition effect. Floyd added that the powered compressor will be instrumental in achieving their desired makeup effects for the spring production of “The Addams Family.”

The cast includes Pascale Molina as Edith, Kassidy Canova as Ruth and the voice of Daphne, Marc Anthony Toro as Charles, Michael Baker as Dr. Bradman, Emma Kriausky as Mrs. Bradman, Marielle Erskine as Madame Arcati, and Emma Stimpson as Elvira.

Countless hours are dedicated to the backstage magic and mayhem that result in a flawless, convincing performance. This collaboration of faculty members and talented students includes professor Robert O’Leary, scenic design; Ashlee Philpott, lighting design and master electrician; W. Chris Gaston, sound design; and Jade Campbell, costume design.
The production/technical crew is comprised of: Doug Brown, scene shop manager; Jason Correia, technical director; Todd Allen, stage manager; Kylee Risdon, assistant stage manager; Anthony Antunez, assistant director and props master; W. Chris Gaston and Katie Blaylock, sound board operators; Searcy Holley, light board operator and master carpenter; and Janae Donawa and Anna Guzman, production assistants.

Carpenters, painters and technicians are Luis Colon, assistant scenic designer and scenic charge artist; and Katie Blaylock, Alexis Session, and Savannah Healy, assistant scenics.

Additional carpenters, painters and electricians are Anthony Antunez, Jason Correia, W. Chris Gaston, Shannon O’Leary, Jeno Tate, Maisha Esdaile and Autumn Osler. 

The costume construction crew includes Emily Strickland, costume faculty supervisor; Tracy Floyd, costume shop manager; Johan Gallardo, assistant to the costume designer; Rachel Allen, wardrobe head; Johan Gallardo, Alexandria Negron and Katy Page, dressers; and Alyssa Clarke, Mitchell Collins, Tareca Siplin, Angel Warren and Emily Vaughn. 

Florida School of the Arts is part of the academic and administrative structure of SJR State and awards the two-year associate degree. The School serves the entire state of Florida and is located on the SJR State Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the website at

The ghost in “Blithe Spirit” delights in wreaking havoc on her husband’s second marriage. Florida School of the Arts students, from left, Marc Anthony Toro, Emma Stimpson and Kassidy Canova, rehearse for the 2015-16 hilariously haunting season opener. The play runs October 1 – 4 on the St. Johns River State College Palatka campus.