The Colony Theater Company just unwrapped an early holiday gift for lovers of sweet
There's very little substance to the shenanigans, but it succeeds on the level of slight, sweet time killer. The subtle narrative contains no intricate plot twists or visceral subtext, but what ends up onstage is inoffensive and pleasant while it lasts. Most uniquely, "Bell, Book and Candle" has to be one of the few plays appropriate to produce at both
"Bell, Book and Candle" drops us in the middle of a coven of witches
Gillian Holroyd (Willow Geer) is a "modern" gal — at least for the year 1953. She lives alone in a gorgeous brownstone apartment in the
Gillian normally uses her abilities to cast spells and cause general havoc in the neighborhood. Her rakish brother Nicky (Will Bradley) focuses his energies on picking up girls. Gillian's silly Aunt Queenie (
When upstairs neighbor Shepherd Henderson (Michael A. Newcomer) stops by one day to complain about Aunt Queenie snooping around, something new and different begins to bubble up inside Gillian. She's intent on keeping Shepherd away from a rival from her youth, but there's some intense attraction she's aware of as well.
So Gillian casts a spell, and Shepherd is instantly smitten. He dumps his girlfriend, slacks off on his job, and begins spending every waking minute romancing Gillian. The staunchly independent gal chafes at the suffocation, and conflict looms on the horizon.
Director Richard Israel handles tone and pace well until the energy tails off toward the end. He made the correct decision to combine the second and third acts, which keeps the running time a proper length and makes the resolution more satisfying.
Other than a woeful attempt at using a poorly stuffed cat to stand in for Gillian's magical "familiar" Pyewacket, the technical aspects of the show are top notch.
Stephen Gifford's scenic design brings Gillian's expansive bachelorette pad to vibrant life.
Key art by Ricky Vodka — including Picasso-style paintings and a creepy voodoo mask — add much-needed authenticity to the witchcraft.
And costumes by Sharon McGunigle pop with vintage charm, from the eye-popping purples and pinks on slinky Gillian to the wizardly frocks worn by Aunt Queenie.
The cast is fine if unmemorable. Bradley brings snark and energy lacking in some of the others. TV addicts will instantly recognize Catlett from
Unfortunately, some of their assets are wasted, as this supposed romantic comedy gets bogged down trying to say something important. When it sticks to the shtick, "Bell, Book and Candle" works the best of any Christmas/Halloween/Magic show around.
JAMES PETRILLO is a screenwriter and actor from
What: "Bell, Book and Candle" by John van Druten
Where: The Colony Theatre Company, 555 N. Third St.,
When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 21
Tickets: $20 to $42 (student, senior and group discounts available)
Contact: (818) 558-7000 or visit http://www.colonytheatre.org