“Bewildered” review by Carol Moore


Highly Recommended **** I loved Hell in a Handbag’s “Bewildered: A Bewitching New Musical”, a campy, laugh-out-loud musical parody of TV’s comedy hit “Bewitched”.   Although Hell in a Handbag did “Bette, Live at the Continental Baths”, in which Caitlin Jackson channeled the Divine Miss M in song and innuendo, this is actually their first full out musical with an original score by Aaron Benham and Ron Weaver.  I see more musicals in the Handbag future.  You can’t help but laugh at “Bewildered”.  4 Spotlights

Of course you know the story – Samantha (Elizabeth Morgan), who twitches her nose to use her witchcraft, married a mortal.  Although she promised not to use her witchcraft, her family members, especially her mother Endora (David Cerda), have no qualms about using theirs.

Although most of the “Bewitched” regulars appear, “Bewildered” is actually about Gladys Kravitz (Caitlin Jackson), the crazy woman who spies on her next door neighbor, Samantha (Elizabeth Morgan), and her ‘ordinary’ family.  Jackson’s powerful voice and awesome comedic chops show up in the title number, complete with backup singers, the Flying Nun, Eddie Munster, Mr. Ed, My Mother the Car, I Dream of Jeanie, and My Favorite Martian.

David Cerda, Handbag founder, Artistic Director and reigning diva, loves playing powerful women.  Endora fits right in – all glitzy kaftans, multi-colored eye makeup and magic spells, and a lovely solo, “In Your Blood”.  Endora and Uncle Arthur (Ed Jones channeling Paul Lynde) are always ready to meddle in Samantha’s life; sometimes even willing to babysit Little Tabitha (Robert Williams) and her brother Adam (a basketball with a bib).

Gladys accidentally finds out that her husband, Abner (Matt Miles), is planning to have her committed, so she decides to take matters into her own hands.  Looking for a way into the Stephens house, she befriends Little Tabitha and ends up invited to dinner.

Darrin’s two sides reflect his ambivalent sexuality – Darrin S. (Scott Sawa) and Darrin G. (AJ Wright) – an ‘ordinary’ side and his more ‘creative’ side.  If Darrin can come up with a new campaign for difficult client, Richard Turner (Michael S. Miller), by dinner time, Larry Tate (Steve Kimbrough) will give him a partnership.  Of course that means Samantha has to clean the house, shop for groceries and cook a gourmet dinner – without using witchcraft.

The Flying Stage Hands (Kira Gaudynski, Jennifer Ledesma, Travis Monroe Neese, Sarah Taylor) are magic assistants, backup singers, and magical TV stars.

Hell in a Handbag’s “Bewildered” runs through November 11th at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.  Valet parking is available.

Running time is 2 hours with an intermission.

Performances are: Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays at 7:30 pm

Sundays at 3:00 pm.

Tickets are $34 in advance ($39 at door).

FYI (773) 327-5252, www.handbagproductions.org or www.stage773.com.