August 9, 1999
WRT has another crowd-pleaser under its beltby Deborah Stone
Woodinville Repertory Theatre continues its mission to bring quality theatre to the Eastside with its third play of the season, Bell, Book & Candle, by John van Druten.
The show, directed by Hal Ryder, is a whimsical tale of a modern witch living in New York City who wonders what it would be like to possess human emotions and fall in love. Gillian Holroyd, played with the right combination of sweetness and fiery spunk by Laurel Minter, sets her sights on her upstairs neighbor, Shepherd Henderson, and proceeds to cast a spell on him.
Henderson, performed by local actor Steve Barron, who played Clifford Anderson in WRT's spring production of Deathtrap, falls for Holroyd on the night of his engagement announcement to another woman. Barron takes command of the stage and his role with an energy that compels the audience's attention.
Sparks fly between Barron and Minter, making their relationship both interesting and fun to watch. The story takes place in Gillian's apartment during a span of two months and includes a host of odd characters, including Gillian's Aunt Queenie, a flamboyantly attired, eccentric witch, played to the hilt by noted actor and founder of WRT, Peg Phillips. Phillips takes to her role with gusto and appropriately dodders around the stage in a slightly befuddled manner, using her dry sense of humor with perfect comedic timing.
There's also Gillian's warlock brother, Nicky, a conniving schemer with-an-edge, performed by Jason Griffin, who played Andrew in WRT's inaugural performance, I Hate Hamlet. Griffin plays Nicky with an over-the-top style, always making his presence known with dramatic entrances and exits.
Sidney Redlitch, an author of magic and witchcraft books, enters the scene in his quest to discover the world of the supernatural in New York City. Michael Mahoney, who played Porter Milgrim in Deathtrap, portrays Redlitch with a thickly exaggerated European accent and buffoon-like mannerisms.
Although the plot and its conclusion are predictable, Bell, Book & Candle is a highly entertaining and enjoyable evening of quality theatre. The talented cast, under Ryder's direction, makes the most of their roles and their energy is contagious. The show played to an enthusiastic full house on opening night and it's clear that Woodinville Repertory Theatre has another crowd-pleaser under its belt. Plans are underway for another season of performances and the search continues for a permanent home for the company.
Bell, Book & Candle runs through August 22nd at Leota Junior High. For ticket information, call 481-8502. Advanced reservations are recommended.
Michael Mahoney plays Sidney Redlitch and Peg Phillips
"Half of my living room is on the set for the play," said