It's a fascinating sensation. Sometimes it happens when meeting a person who you'd swear you knew from someplace else. Other times it happens when you visit a place for the first time but have the strange feeling you've been there before. And then it might happen when you're seeing a show that is so eerily similar to production of the same show, you had seen before at another theater. Either way, that was the feeling I had while watching Bell, Book & Candle at Theatreworks New Milford.
The play centers around Gillian Holroyd. She is a sensual, free spirited gal, restless in life and unlucky in love. She also happens to be a witch. When she learns that her handsome neighbor, Shep Henderson, is engaged to her old college rival, she uses every trick in the book to stop the wedding. But when, in the midst of her magical maneuvering, she finds herself falling for him, she's left with a difficult choice: you see, witches who fall in love lose their powers.
The cast is all around excellent, which is par for the course with most Theatreworks productions. Jenny Schuck is fantastic, calculating and cool as Gillian. Equally excellent is James Hipp as Shep. Adding to the fun, are the always reliably talented Jody Bayer and Matt Austin. Jeff Roseman is a nice addition to the cast as well as Sidney.
Now here is where things get a bit interesting. As good as this show was, I couldn't help but notice how remarkably similar it looked to the production that was performed at Hartford Stage in 2012 - from the scenic design, costuming and even blocking. The only other time I've seen this show was at Hartford Stage, so it was fresh in my mind when viewing the Theatreworks production, which caused me to raise one eyebrow on more than one occasion.
I won't accuse the folks at Theatreworks of trying to recreate the Hartford Stage production. Who knows, maybe Bell, Book and Candle requires the same type of set, costuming, hair, blocking, etc in all of its productions.
But if the script doesn't, then director/designer Joe Russo should be giving a lot of credit to Darko Tresnjak and Alexander Dodge for this production.
So I highly recommend seeing Theatreworks New Milford's production of Bell Book and Candle, especially if you're a fan of fun comedies or the Hartford Stage production. You won't be disappointed and it will be a pleasant trip down memory lane.
The show runs thru Jan 9th. For tickets and info, visit http://theatreworks.us/shows/display_show.php?show_id=bellbook