A solution to writer's block goes wrong -- very wrong -- in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit."
Opening tonight, the Little Theatre will present the paranormal comedy starring Terry Yates as beleaguered novelist Charles Condomine. In a desperate bid to conjure a topic for his next book, Condomine seeks the help of Madame Arcati, a psychic medium who summons the ghost of his late wife, Elvira. Beautiful, confident and anything but subtle, she is as potent in death as she was in life.
"(The play takes place) seven years later, so now (Charles) has a second wife, Ruth," director Tim Thompson said. "... His first wife wants him back and begins to cause things to happen. She's hoping to kill him so they can be together again."
After some handiwork on his car's brakes, Elvira's plan goes awry when Ruth gets behind the wheel instead of Charles.
"So now he's got two dead wives," Thompson said. "He has several more séances with Madame Arcati to try to send them back."
While a story of two deceased spouses may not scream hilarity, Thompson assures the play is a very British form of comedy and has been well-received by audiences since its Broadway opening in 1941.
"There's a lot of physical humor in it. There's a lot of double entendres," he said.
As a veteran educator, Thompson directed two high-school productions of "Blithe Spirit" -- so seeing adults take to the material has been brand new.
"I always thought it was a fun vehicle for kids. They always really liked it -- the special effects and the séances," he said. "But with the adult cast, it's even better because they really embody these adult-experienced characters."
With a distinctly spirited plot twist, Thompson expressed appreciation for not only his cast but the crew.
"I love the audiences' reactions at the end of the show," he said. "You have to have a lot of backstage coordination. I think every show has that, but this one is especially challenging so that it looks right and the audience is wowed by it."
As he looks toward opening night, Thompson is hopeful the Jefferson City audiences' enjoyment matches his.
"I should be bored of it by now because I've sat through so many rehearsals, but I'm not -- they're marvelous," he said. "I still laugh every night."
"Blithe Spirit" runs Thursday through Saturday at the Miller Performing Arts Center, 501 Madison St., with adult tickets priced at $15 and $10 for children 12 and under. For more information, visit tltjc.org.