A Witchy Brew: Bell, Book & Candle at Barnstormers Theatre
Step back into the 1950s where gender expectations and experiences were much stricter and, well, binary. Men were expected to be a certain definition of men, and women were similarly constrained, and witches were, well, it’s complicated.
The era’s cultural, political and sexual constraints help set the perimeters for John Van Druten’s play, Bell, Book, and Candle, written in 1950 and adapted as a movie in 1955 starring Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart, and a likely precursor to the beloved TV show “Bewitched.” Running through June 23 and leading into youth summer camps June 24 – 28 and July 8 – 12, the play returns to life at Barnstormers Theatre in Grants Pass.
Bell, Book & Candle is a comedy about the main character Gillian Holroyd who has supernatural powers. Shepherd Henderson is an unaware and unattached publisher who is the subject of one of Gillian’s love spells. He is smitten, but as Michele Kyle, Barnstormer’s Theater Director explains, “Witches are not supposed to be able to fall in love. They cannot shed tears.”
But is that true? Can a witch fall in love? The old wives’ tale says she cannot. If she succumbs, will she lose her powers? These questions propel the plot as character hilariously scramble to cover up what is going on.
As Director, Kyle has produced five plays with Barnstormers and has been working with them for about 12 years as both stage manager and Director. Before that, she trained under a professional stage manager at Connect the Dots and produced outdoor shows at Summer Jo’s, an organic farm and restaurant.
“I have a great, experienced cast,” she says. “It is really fun in community theater when you have actors of a similar experience level.” She has worked with three of the actors in companies before.
Barnstormers is the oldest continuous-running community theater in Oregon, doing seven to eight productions annually. When the Messenger asked Kyle about the challenges of community theater she explained, “Artists will work for nothing and they do at Barnstormer’s. No one is paid. Your lighting technician, sound technician, stage manager, and all the costuming people, and set designers are volunteers who are committed to theater.”
Because of the volunteer status, rehearsals and auditions are also challenging, Kyle reports. “When you have community theater and you have actors that have day jobs, you are always dealing with work schedules. Sometimes everything you are doing has to do with those work schedules. And when you audition, you have to make sure you have actors that are actually going to arrive at the same time.”
Bell, Book, & Candle
2 and 7:30 pm, June 7 – 23
“Make ‘Em Laugh” Summer Youth Camps
June 24 – 28, ages 8 – 12
July 8 – 12, ages 13 – 18
Barnstormers Theatre, 112 NE Evelyn Ave., Grants Pass