“BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE” WILL QUICKLY PUT YOU UNDER ITS SPELL


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Sprinkle some pixie dust, intone a few mysterious words of incantation, rub a lucky rabbit’s foot, cast a spell with frog legs and tongues of newt, avoid black cats and broken mirrors and take a few swigs of love potion for beneficial karma. All of the above are recommended to put you in the proper mood to attend Long Wharf Theatre’s current delightful offering of mystical and magical murmurings in John Van Druten’s comic “Bell, Book and Candle.”

 

The hocus pocus, spells and witchcraft will continue at Long Wharf in New Haven until Sunday, April 1, in partnership with the Hartford Stage which will continue the spellbinding at their venue from Thursday, April 5 to Sunday, April 29.

 

We first meet Gillian Holroyd, genuine, authentic and actively practicing witch at Christmas in New York in the early 1950’s, on a deliciously cherry red set designed for holiday festivity by Alexander Dodge. Kate MacCluggage’s Gillian is a free spirit who enjoys calling upon her midnight black cat Pyewacket to exercise her indulgences, for good or for ill, depending upon her mood of the moment.

 

Miss MacCluggage is enchanting with her charms and utterly convincing as a woman of whims who has decided, out of boredom perhaps, to indulge in romance. She lights upon her upstairs neighbor, a rather conservative book publisher Shep Henderson as the target of her wiles. Not being human, she has never entertained love in any serious form but she is anxious to try her hand at playing Cupid’s game.

 

The unsuspecting victim of her plot, Robert Eli’s Shep, is comfortably romantically attached to Merle, on the brink of getting engaged, his future all but set in stone. When Gillian discovers Shep’s lady friend is an enemy she tangled with in college, her plan to take a bit of revenge and win Shep in the process is too good to resist, even if it means losing her supernatural powers if she should actually fall in love.

 

Entering into the cosmic confusion are Gillian’s brother Nicky (Michael Keyloun) and her aunt Queenie (Ruth Williamson) who also have magical powers and a best selling author who dabbles in the occult Sidney Redlitch (Gregor Paslawsky), who becomes a pawn in Gillian’s game of chess. Darko Tresnjak directs this bewitching adventure into the dark side with a decidedly light handed touch.

 

For tickets ($40-70), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

 

Watch how Gillian and her best friend and familiar Pyewacket give new meaning to the phrase “the cat’s meow.”

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