Review: BEWILDERED at Hell in a Handbag Productions

Review: BEWILDERED at Hell in a Handbag Productions

Pictured: (center) Caitlin Jackson with (left to right) Steve Kimbrough, Kira Gaudynski, Michael S. Miller, Sarah Taylor, Travis Monroe Neese and Jennifer Ledesma. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

By Naima Dawson

Hell in a Handbag Productions catapults into its 15th Anniversary season with the premiere of BEWILDERED, a feisty musical parody that takes the high pleasure of twisting and reimagining the 1960s hit TV classic, Bewitched.

Bewitched brought the phenomena of witchcraft into the good wholesome households of America with Samantha and Darin Stephens. This almost picture-perfect family had one little snag, Samantha’s colorful mother and extended family were all witches that loved to bring a little chaos to the Stephens’ household.

BEWILDERED’s premise is through the eyes of Ms. Gladys Kravitz, the nosy next-door neighbor, whose husband considers her to be a little crazy, or in 60’s terms, bewildered. See, Ms. Kravitz witnesses all the witchcraft but can never seem to document her findings to confirm that she’s anything but crazy.

Written by Ron Weaver, BEWILDERED is an ingenious musical that might catch many off-guard, but this cast wastes no time warming up to the audience and pulling them into their lively candor. This creative parody had me once Uncle Arthur (Ed Jones) hit the stage. Jones captures every flamboyant mannerism that was deeply camouflaged or not in the original TV series. He shines bright with his glitter, gold, and studio 54 flare. He is a complete riot from start to finish in this production.

David Cerda, who embodies everything Endora, is the mother witch to Samantha (Elizabeth Morgan). Cerda’s makeup, his gown, and quick wit are everything Endora times ten on stage.

The musical even pays homage to the fact there were two Darins throughout the television series, and one carried a very closet secret that comes all the way out in this entertaining musical parody.

It’s Gladys Kravitz (Caitlin Jackson), though, who steals the show with her ability to draw us into the story and sing to our hearts between all the saucy puns and quickfire comedic wit. Jackson is a complete joy to watch on stage. She’d do quite well in her own TV sitcom.

Though I was raised on reruns of Bewitched, as I came along in the 70s, I do distinctively remember much about its characters and their unique dynamics and off-screen secrets. BEWILDERED breaks the mold of everything safe and jumps way into the deep end to bring mounds of fiery foreplay with words and loads of sidesplitting laughter to the Bewitched legacy.

BEWILDERED runs through November 11th. For more informaiton visit handbagproductions.org.

About author

Naima Dawson

Naima Dawson is a published author, Chicago playwright, and professor. Her career accomplishments cover more than 20 years in Arts Entertainment. Her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and her Master of Education from DePaul University solidifies her ability to bridge the two worlds between Arts and Education. She is the writer and producer of Your Call! Late Night Improv & Sketch Comedy for Grown Folks, as seen in production at the Apollo Theater and The Mercury Theater.

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