When I was a wee lad, I discovered the TV show Bewitched. IN SYNDICATION! I became obsessed. I think at some point I could quote all of the episodes and summarize each of their plot lines. Now, as a grown man, of thirty-some years of age, it seems blatantly clear why I loved this show so much. I was, in fact, a witch. While I never could figure out how to make things materialize before my very eyes, I had the nose wiggle, I recited incantations, I cast spells, and there was a black cat in the neighborhood who seemed to only love me. I felt certain that it was only a matter of time before I would be riding my mother’s janky old broom. One day, she brought home a push broom, and I was livid. What witch ever rode a push broom?
While I adored Samantha, and secretly longed to be Endora, the character with whom I most identified was Uncle Arthur. He was my idol. Somebody could have magical powers AND be hilariously funny? Sign me up!
I realize now why I related so well to these witches. They were different, and naughty, and not accepted by mortals who couldn’t understand or accept their differences. Hmm… This felt very close to home.
It took a long time for me to accept myself as a gay man and to not feel the need to hide it. Growing up in a conservative Christian church-going family, being gay was not a possibility. It was something to pray away and be ashamed of.
In Bell, Book and Candle, I play Nicky Holroyd, brother to our protagonist, Gillian. He is not ashamed of who he is. He tones down the flamboyancy in public, of course. After all, this is the 1950s. But when he is with his family, his witches, he can be who he truly is. He carries a hard-earned pride and sense of self that he guards staunchly, and he will lash out at any one or anything that threatens to take that away. He knows the day will come when people like him don’t have to hide who they are and can strut their stuff everywhere they go, but that day is still about forty years off. Until then, he will walk through life with his head held high, a permanent smirk on his face and a zippy one-liner at the ready.
Bell, Book and Candle is not your typical holiday fare. There are no sugar plum fairies or Scrooges or mangers. But there’s some brilliant writing, lots of laughs, maybe a few tears and a lot to think about. And my hope is that you leave the theater with a new appreciation for the witches in your life. And a greater love for the one that lives within you.