It's Christmas, Homie. More reality is not what any of us need. So SF Playhouse's choice of John Van Druten's "Bell, Book and Candle" for its annual feel-good holiday show is an inspired one. First a stage play, then a 1958 film starring Kim Novak, James Stewart and Ernie Kovacs, the show gives us old-fashioned sensibility along with an appealing love story.
See, they're witches. Some of them, anyway, including Lauren English as Gillian, Scott Cox as her brother Nicky and Zehra Berkman as Miss Holroyd. William Connell plays Shepherd Henderson, the prototypical fifties romantic straight man, and Louis Parnell has all the good funny lines as the alcoholic author Sidney Redlitch. Did you know witches cannot cry? Well, they can't, unless they fall in love, which they also can't do. Brooms, yes. Messing with the electricity grid, yes. But matters of the heart? Nuh uh.
Don't fret. Lauren English has special powers. It all turns out fine.
Shout-outs to Kurt Landisman whose lights really make the set come alive. And that cool red love seat: Artistic Director Bill English scores the rare Theatrical Hat Trick for this one -- he designed the set, directs the play and Lauren English is his daughter.
RATINGS ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Bell, Book and Candle" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. It's perfect for Christmas, simple, lighthearted and you don't have to buy it a present. The show will work for all ages.
"Bell, Book and Candle"
San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post Street (second floor Kensington Park Hotel)
Through January 19, 2013