Veteran actress Dame Angela Lansbury was the toast of the West End on Tuesday night (18Mar14) when she made her London stage comeback after an absence of nearly 40 years. The Murder, She Wrote star last appeared on stage in the British capital in a 1975 production of Hamlet at the National Theatre, but she has made a triumphant return in a revival of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit.
The play opened at the Gielgud Theatre, the same stage once graced by Lansbury's actress mother Moyna MacGill in 1918, on Tuesday and won rave reviews and a standing ovation for its star.
Paul Taylor of The Independent newspaper hails Lansbury's portrayal of kooky medium Madame Arcati as "deliciously erratic" and "funny and endearing" while Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph awards the show a maximum of five stars, adding, "Lansbury brings astonishing energy and comic panache to her performance. It is a comedy that still startles and delights... She is terrific... But the whole show is a treat."
Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail also gives the play five stars, adding, "She is perfect. Makes it look effortless," while Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard concludes, "Angela Lansbury's return to the West End... is something to treasure... Her fans will be entranced by the charm, balance and precision she brings to such a well-known role."
The Murder, She Wrote star has enjoyed an illustrious theatre career, which has won her five Tony Awards over the years.
She was most recently seen in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music on Broadway opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones, but bowed out of the show last summer (10). Lansbury is now hoping to return to her native U.K. to appear in the West End - but she will only sign up if she is given the chance to work at the same venue where her late mother, actress Moyna MacGill, once performed.
She tells Britain's The Guardian, "I really would love to play the Theatre Royal Haymarket, because that is where my mother played. It nearly happened last year, and if that venue could be guaranteed I would come. I only want someone to make the offer."