Hickory – Two teachers and a retired Air Force colonel head up the cast of the Hickory Community Theatre’s upcoming production of Noel Coward’s ghostly comedy, “Blithe Spirit.” The play is presented by the Theatre’s program for seniors, the Encore Players, and will be on stage June 16-26 in the Firemen’s Kitchen.

The comedy is about one husband coping with the conflict between two wives – the ghost of his first wife and his very much alive second wife.

A familiar face to Theatre audiences, John Koval, has the role of the beleaguered husband, Charles Condomine. Koval has Blithe-Spiritbeen in over 20 shows at the Theatre, starting with “Wit” in 2002, and most recently as Max in the dramatic comedy “Superior Donuts.” He’s a career Air Force veteran, who retired as a full colonel prior to relocating to Hickory with his wife, Karin. A native of Bloomfield, NJ, he holds an BS in Electrical Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, an ME in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and now runs his own computer networking firm here in Catawba County.

Jill Heafner, who is playing Ruth Condomine, Charles’ lively second wife, is in her second outing with the Encore Players. Last year she had the plum role of Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Heafner is a retired Special Education teacher and North Carolina native who resides in Crouse, NC. She holds three degrees, a BA in Music from UNC Greensboro, a Masters in Music from Appalachian State, and a Masters in Special Education from Lenoir-Rhyne University. She’s very active with the Lincoln Theatre Guild, where her favorite roles were Abby in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and the ex-Russian Grand Duchess in “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Elvira, the enigmatic ghost of Charles’ first wife is played by Donna Nichols, a Caldwell County native who is making her return to the stage after a 17 year absence. She took that hiatus after the birth of her children, Morgan and Jacob. During her previous time on stage, before the kids, her favorite roles were Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?” and Anna in the outdoor drama, “From This Day Forward.” Nichols teaches fifth grade at Dudley Shoals Elementary in Granite Falls, has a Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Education Technology, both from Appalachian State.

Performances of “Blithe Spirit,” are Thursdays through Sundays, June 16-26, at 7:30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2:30 on Sunday. Tickets are $14 with general admission seating. For tickets call 828-327-3855 or go to hickorytheatre.showare.com/SPIRIT.

Photo: (L-R) Donna Nichols, John Koval and Jill Heafner star in “Blithe Spirit,” playing June 16-26 at the Hickory Community Theatre.  Photo by Chris Reidel.