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A bewitching love story for Halloween

'Bell, Book and Candle' at Tacoma Little Theatre

'Bell, Book and Candle' poster. Photo courtesy Tacoma Little Theatre

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Bell, Book and Candle is probably best remembered from the 1958 romantic comedy starring Kim Novak, James Stewart and Jack Lemon, adapted from the Broadway play by John Van Druten. Set in Greenwich Village during the Christmas season, it is the love story of Gillian Holroyd (Novak in the film), a witch who is in love with her neighbor, Shepherd Henderson, a publisher (Stewart in the film). Gillian casts a spell on Shepherd, and he falls head over heels in love with her and wants to marry her. But there are complications.

On stage at Tacoma Little Theatre, the play stars Victoria Ashley as Gillian and Jed Slaughter as Shepherd.

Bell, Book and Candle is directed by Brett Carr, co-producer at the Broadway Center producing the upcoming show Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. He most recently produced Thurgood with Eric Clausell at the Broadway Center and has directed more than 75 productions in the past 40 years.

"I was honored to be asked to direct a show for the 100th Anniversary Season at TLT," Carr says. "Chris (Serface, TLT artistic director) asked if I'd be interested in directing BB&C. I had seen the movie a few times and actually saw a stage production in Denver in the late '70s. But, I frankly remembered little of the stage show. I thought the story very entertaining and it would be a challenge bringing a script to life that was written in 1951, the year I was born. While shrouded in magic with modern witches and warlocks, at its heart BB&C is a love story. It validates the power and simplicity of love. No potions, no incantations or maneuvering can stand against true love. I like that.

"This production is in many ways representational of the best in community theater. From highly talented, but new-to-the-area people, to the best in veteran actors two generations apart and a new talent who has never appeared on stage before."

Ashley moved to Tacoma two months ago with her husband stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. She is from Mississippi where she received her acting degree at University of Mississippi, and this will be her first play in the area. BB&C will be Max Christofferson's first play. Max is from Tacoma. Wendy Cohen is a veteran actor from Seattle. Michael Storslee is a well-known local actor who has been in dozens of shows at TLT. Mike is originally from New York and is making his return to stage after taking a hiatus from acting. He was Charlie in the 2002 TLT production of The Foreigner, which was also Carr's first show at TLT where he was stage manger, and where I met his wife, Kim Izenman. Jed Slaughter is a local actor seen in such shows as Arcadia and Wait Until Dark at Lakewood Playhouse and The Underpants at TLT.

BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE, 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26-Nov. 11, pay what you can Nov. 8, Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. I St., Tacoma, $20-$25,  253.272.2281,

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