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THEATER REVIEW Bewildered
by Eric Karas
2017-10-09

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Book: Ron Weaver

Music & Lyrics: Aaron Benham and Ron Weaver.

Directed by: Brigitte Ditmars

At: Stage 773, 1225 W Belmont.

Tickets: handbagproductions.org and Stage773.com: $22-$39. Runs through: Nov. 11

Hell in a Handbag productions celebrates its 15th anniversary with the staging of Bewildered, a parody musical of LGBT favorite Bewitched told from the perspective of nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz.

The original TV series only worked because of the appeal of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens. Bewildered has to work due to the appeal of Caitlin Jackson as Gladys Kravitz and she is more than up to the task. She brings the pathos, desperation and humor of this comic relief character forced into the spotlight. Elizabeth Morgan does a fine job as Samantha but this is truly Caitlin and Gladys' show.

David Cerda is in his sweet spot as Endora, all fabulous outfits and side-eye sarcasm. The two Darrins ( you know there had to be two ), played by Scott Sawa and AJ Wright, are letter-perfect. AJ hasn't quite lost his Blanche Devereaux ( from their Golden Girls show ), and I love it. Robert Williams, as Tabitha/Louise, has a wacky charm as Tabitha and generates over-the-top laughs as the drunk Louise Tate. The rest of the cast—including the magical stage hands—are all terrific and well cast.

As in almost every Hell in a Handbag show, Ed Jones steals the show. His Uncle Arthur is so hilarious that the stage lights up whenever he's there.

Ron Weaver's book is not only funny but very smart. He gives depth to the Kravitz character that we've never thought about before. Is she spying on her neighbors because she's in an unhappy marriage or has low self esteem? Aaron Benham's music is fun and joyous, perfectly matching the '60s sitcom feel—and they have a full band, which sounds great. Ditmars keeps things moving along and I especially loved her use of the magical stage hands as props and greek chorus.

Fly your broomstick over to Stage 773, and check out this hilarious and fun show.


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