John Van Druten’s “Bell, Book and Candle” at NRACT Is a Romantic Comedy with a Supernatural Twist

"Bell, Book and Candle" at NRACT

"Bell, Book and Candle" at NRACT

North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre will stage a community-theater production of Bell, Book and Candle, 1950 romantic comedy with a supernatural twist by English dramatist and director John William Van Druten (1901-57), on Oct. 21-23 and 28-30 and Nov. 4-6 in its small black-box theater in the Greystone Village Shopping Center in north Raleigh.

I believe I first saw the [1958] film version of this show, with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, on television when I was in junior high,” remembers NRACT guest director Sally Kinka. “I am a big Jimmy Stewart fan. I remember enjoying the movie very much. The subject matter really interested me. I was also devoted to the televised re-runs of ‘Bewitched,’ probably the entire time I was growing up. I have never worked on the stage version until now, and was somewhat surprised when I read the script.

Kinka, who doubles as costume and sound designer for the show, adds, “Seeing the script now, after an established career in theater, I immediately saw all the things I would like to add to its flavor. I am still fascinated with the subject matter, and I was very excited for the opportunity to bring it, afresh to a contemporary audience.

“The characters are colorful and enjoyable for the actors to play,” claims Kinka, “and there is nothing more fun than watching a character ‘not lie’ while at the same time, withholding the truth. Bringing that out is the best part about directing this piece.”

When the curtain rises on Bell, Book and Candle, director Sally Kinka says, “It is 1948, and Gillian Holroyd (Regenna Rouse), is a witch who sets her sights on the attractive man who lives upstairs, Shepherd Henderson (Ryan Ladue). Circumstances make her quest to possess him suddenly too urgent to attract him using conventional ways, so she reverts to witchcraft.”

Kinka adds, “Gillian’s spell works completely — but not flawlessly — as her mischievous brother Nicky (Christopher Bynum) and her silly aunt Queenie (Barbara diCiero) cause trouble, both accidentally and intentionally. To complicate matters further, an eccentric author, Miss Sidney Redlitch (Jennifer B. Warner), shows up, looking for information [for] a book about witchcraft that she is writing.

“Magical sparks fly,” says Kinka, “as the siblings battle over who will get their way, and poor Shep is caught in the middle. In our version, we employ the help of two spirits, the spirit of fire (Elish Urgo) and the spirit of the cat (Brianna Gilmore) — Gillian’s familiar, Pyewacket (Pepper).”

In addition to director and costume and sound designer Sally Kinka, the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre creative team for Bell, Book and Candle will include producer and set and lighting designer Michael Anderson, assistant director and “spirit choreographer” Elizabeth Anderson, and sound operator Maximillian Thomas.

Director Sally Kinka says, The entire story unfolds in one location, Gillian’s New York apartment, which is Gothic/eclectic … and possessed by spirits. There are several moments of ‘magic’ which involve mysterious, New Age music, thunder, lighting effects, and fire.”

She adds, “The costumes exhibit intentional color-psychology, framed in the elegant lines of the fashion of the late 1940s, as well as traditional ceremonial Wiccan garb.”

WARNING: This show includes elements of the occult, alcohol consumption, live animals, and implied sexual situations.

North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE at 8 p.m. Oct. 21 and 22, 3 p.m. Oct. 23, 8 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29, 3 p.m. Oct. 30, 8 p.m. Nov. 4 and 5, and p.m. Nov. 6 at NRACT, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615.

TICKETS: $15 ($12 students and seniors 62+), except all seats $10 on Oct. 23rd.

BOX OFFICE: 919/866-0228,, or




The Playwright: (Wikipedia).

The Film:,_Book_and_Candle_(film) (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).