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CPH to Cast a Spell with Bell, Book and Candle

Posted January 2, 2013 in Press Releases

CLEVELAND, OH (January 2, 2013) – Before there was the hit TV show Bewitched, there was the stylish and funny romantic comedy, Bell, Book and Candle, set in the hip 1950s New York City where we meet Gillian, a smart, independent and beautiful woman – and a witch. When she decides to amuse herself by casting a love spell on her handsome young neighbor, her life is turned upside-down. Directed by Artistic Director Michael Bloom, theCleveland Play House production of Bell, Book and Candle by John van Druten will begin in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare on Friday, January 11 and run through Sunday, February 3, 2013. Tickets are available by calling 216-241-6000 or online Bell, Book and Candle is produced with support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council.

“This is one of those classic comedies that is just as fresh now as when it was written,” states Michael Bloom, CPH Artistic Director. “I believe Bell, Book and Candle is wildly underestimated, and nothing makes me happier than introducing undiscovered gems to our audiences.”


In the world of the play Bell, Book and Candle we meet Gillian Holroyd, a smart, well-traveled New Yorker who also happens to be among the world’s more talented practitioners of magic. She circulates among a community of witches and warlocks, including her eccentric aunt Miss “Queenie” Holroyd, her mischievous brother Nicky, and a “familiar” — a supernatural cat — named Pyewacket. Shepherd “Shep” Henderson is a worldly, intelligent New York-based publisher who most definitely does not believe in witchcraft — or does he? Certainly there have been mysterious, unexplained goings-on in his apartment. When he confronts his landlord Gillian concerning these odd happenings, he is drawn into a whole new world and irresistibly (magically?) pulled towards Gillian. But thanks to the revelation of a potentially lucrative collaboration between Sidney Redlitch, a writer about modern witchcraft, and the irrepressible Nicky, many truths surface too quickly, and causing a rift between the lovers. Will their relationship hold together in the end? To make it work, Shep must learn to see Gillian for who she really is and to believe in her. Of the two of them, however, her sacrifice is the greater -- to find love with Shep, Gillian must let go of her witchcraft and, in so doing, let go of part of her identity. Can she do it?

Playwright John van Druten was born in London in 1901, to a Dutch father and English mother. Originally a lawyer, van Druten entered the world of the stage with no small bit of notoriety: his first work, Young Woodley, was banned in London in 1925 by the Lord Chamberlain’s office for its critique of the public school system. It was not the first time van Druten would court controversy, as his 1940s hit The Voice of the Turtle also challenged rigid social and sexual mores and shocked some audiences — though not enough to keep them from coming in record numbers. In addition to Bell, Book and Candle (1950), he is best known for I Remember Mama (1944), and I Am a Camera (1951), on which the musical Cabaret was later based. He directed the premieres of most of his plays, and also staged the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I,starring Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence. He wrote screenplay adaptations of his most successful plays, as well as a number of original screenplays, adaptations, and television scripts.


Eric Martin Brown (Shepherd Henderson) acted on Broadway in Dance of Deathalongside Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen. Off-Broadway work includes The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd, Mint Theater; Suddenly Last Summer, NIKO Companies; Fly, Lincoln Center Institute; Servicemen, The New Group; and The Ruby Sunrise, The Public Theater. Regional theatre includes The Wilma Theater; Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.; The Old Globe; Capital Repertory Theatre; Studio Arena; Bread Loaf; Palm Beach Dramaworks; Elm Shakespeare; Arkansas Rep; Caldwell, and Yale Rep. Brown has so far appeared on television and film in Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, 30 Rock, Gossip Girl, Third Watch, One Life to Live, All My Children, As the World Turns, Pear, Found In Time, The Response, Jacklight and All I want for Christmas. Training includes a Master of Fine Arts, Yale School of Drama and Bachelor of Fine Arts, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Georgia Cohen (Gillian Holroyd) appeared in New York City as Sasha in Wasted: An Historical Burlesque at Ars Nova, as Olivia in Fiasco Theater Company’s Twelfth Night at Access Theater, and Hostess in The Acting Company’s National Tour of Henry V which ran at New Victory Theater (in NYC), Arizona Theatre Company, and Guthrie Theater. Additional regional theatre credits include portraying Meg in Crimes of the Heart at McCarter Theatre Center; Sandy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at People’s Light & Theatre; and Julia in 1984 and Elizabeth in Don Carlos at The Sandra Feinstein – Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Cohen holds a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and is a proud graduate of Brown/Trinity Rep’s Master of Fine Arts Acting Program. Other training includes workshops with The Public, Long Wharf, PS 122 and Naked Angels.

Patricia Kilgarriff (Miss Holroyd) appeared at Cleveland Play House in Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot (world premiere) and The Importance of Being Earnest. Broadway credits include Steel Magnolias, Tartuffe, Night Must Fall, A Delicate Balance, A Small Family Business, La Bete, Lettice and Lovage, Shirley Valentine, Noises Off!, and The Man Who Had Three Arms. Off-Broadway includes Mary Broome, Mint Theater; Time and Again,Kindertransport and The Art of Success, Manhattan Theatre Club; Beckett/Albee; Spread Eagle; London Suite; All’s Well That Ends Well; Counting the Ways; and Footfalls. Selected regional appearances are A Woman of No Importance, Yale Repertory Theatre (Connecticut Critics Award, Outstanding Actress); Shirley Valentine, Portland Repertory Theatre (Drammy Award); Arkansas Repertory Theatre; City Theatre Pittsburgh; McCarter Theatre Center; and Hartford Stage. Film/television includes The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Real Blonde, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, All My Children, Second Honeymoon, Loving and Ryan’s Hope. Kilgarriff also has numerous voiceover and audiobook credits.

Marc Moritz (Sidney Redlitch) appeared at Cleveland Play House in readings of U.S. v. Howard Mechanic, The Will to Art and Thicker than Water. On Broadway, he originated the role of Talk Show Host in the Sondheim/Prince musical Merrily We Roll Along – Moritz is featured on the original cast recording. Regional theatre includes Long Wharf, Goodman, New Harmony, Riverside Shakespeare, Porthouse, Cain Park, Weathervane (as a director), TrueNorth (as a director), Dobama (as an actor and director), Great Lakes/Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and many more. Moritz was founding director of Cleveland-based Giant Portions Improv Company. Training includes a Master of Fine Arts, Kent State University; stints at ImprovOlympic; and extensive workshops with Paul Sills, Del Close, and Charna Halpern. He has acted in numerous television and radio commercials and in the made for TV movie Dead and Alive: The Race for Gus Farace. A teaching faculty member at Notre Dame College, he also teaches his unique Improv for Educators workshops throughout the U.S.

Jeremy Webb (Nicky Holroyd) made his professional debut in Cleveland as Dionysos inThe Bahhhai for Gerald Freedman at Great Lakes Theater Festival. He appeared in New York in The Visit (Broadway, The Actors Fund); The Glorious Ones (Lincoln Center Theater, original cast recording); The Baltimore Waltz, Tabletop, Photograph 51 and BFF. Other credits include Williamstown Theatre Festival; L.A. Theatre Works; workshops of The Royal Family of Broadway, Dance of the Vampires, Yeast Nation; Eugene O'Neill Theater Center; New York Stage and Film; The Old Globe; The Kennedy Center; Long Wharf; Shakespeare Theatre Company; Huntington; McCarter; and The Hangar. Webb received a Drama Desk Award for Tabletop; Connecticut Critics Circle Award for The Laramie Project; and Helen Hayes and SALT Award nominations. Film and television includes Love Walked In, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and The Guiding Light. Training was at The North Carolina School of the Arts.

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John van Druten (Playwright) was born in 1901 in London, England. His first successful play, Young Woodley, produced in 1928, was the impetus for his abandoning his law career to concentrate on writing and directing for theatre full-time. His best-known plays, primarily light comedies, include Old Acquantance (1940); The Voice of the Turtle (1943); I Remember Mama (1944); Bell, Book and Candle (1950); and I am a Camera (1951), on which Joe Masteroff’s book for the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret was partly based. After several years and considerable accomplishments in the United States, van Druten became an American citizen in 1944. He passed away in 1957 following a years-long battle with heart disease.

Michael Bloom (Director) is the eighth artistic director of Cleveland Play House. Recently for CPH’s New Ground Theatre Festival, he directed Every Good Boy Deserves Favor with The Cleveland Orchestra. For CPH he has adapted Emma (published by Samuel French), and directed Ten Chimneys, Lost in Yonkers, Heaven’s My Destination, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Lincolnesque, Rabbit Hole, Well, and Private Lives. He has directed at many of the country’s other major theatres including American Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Old Globe Theatre, South Coast Rep, Seattle Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, Alley Theatre, Alliance Theatre Company, and Long Wharf Theatre. His productions have also been seen throughout Japan. His off-Broadway production of Sight Unseen garnered three Obie Awards, and he received a Drama Desk nomination for direction. Other productions include the American premiere of A Young Lady from Rwanda; Gross Indecency, Elliott Norton Award for Best Directing, 1998; and the world premieres of Dinner with Friends at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Tennessee Williams’ Spring Storm. His articles have appeared in American Theatre Magazine and The New York Times, and his book Thinking Like a Director was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2001.

The design team for Bell Book and Candle includes Russell Parkman (Scenic Design), Michael Boll (Lighting Design), David Kay Mickelsen (Costume Design), and James C. Swonger (Sound Design). Also on the team: John Godbout (Stage Manager), Jamie Benetto (Assistant Stage Manager).

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Ticket Information

Single tickets are on sale now; prices range from $49 to $69. Tickets are $15 for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid ID. For single tickets, please call 216-241-6000 or go online at Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027 or email

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