CSUF’s production of ‘Bell, Book & Candle’ enchants ’50s charm onto lead actors

In Arts & Entertainment, Lifestyle, Theater & Arts
Photo courtesy of Jordan Kubat

People often wish on stars, search for four-leaf clovers and silently hope for what they want at 11:11, but much of the time, wishes are made without the assumption that it will actually come true.

“I think the lesson learned is be careful what you wish for because you really just might get it. And what you want isn’t always exactly what you think it’s going to be, that doesn’t make it a bad thing,” said Aaron Ford, a senior acting major who plays publisher Shepherd “Shep” Henderson in “Bell, Book & Candle.”

The romantic comedy follows Gillian Holroyd, played by third-year theatre major Noah Michal, a witch who is bored with the predictability of her life. Although she can get anything she wants, she realizes she wants something different. Shep gives her the excitement she’s been looking for.

Gillian casts a spell on Shep to make him fall in love with her because of her disdain for his fiancée. But if Gillian falls in love with Shep, she will lose her powers.

When she starts falling for him, Gillian has to make a choice: Either keep her powers or decide that being in love is worth losing everything.

Gillian and Shep are both very bold characters with big shoes to fill, and it gave both Michal and Ford a chance to step out of their comfort zones.

“Shep’s a super confident guy and he doesn’t let things get to him, at least not on the surface,” Ford said. “I think in life I’m a little more free form. I get nervous and I get really anxious, in stressful situations I tend to lock up, so I think that’s the biggest difference.”

In rehearsals, Ford would sometimes take critiques and direction too seriously, but playing Shep reminded him that the production was a comedy and to have fun.

“Gillian is a very sensual, powerful woman and I’ve never played this kind of very suggestive, open kind of character before and that was something that I had to really dig and find within myself,” Michal said.

As much as these characters have rubbed off on Michal and Ford, the actors have also brought something to their roles.

“I think I bring a lot of charm. That’s the thing about him that I love the most is that he’s a really charming guy,” Ford said.

Ford and Michal had different reactions to finding out they would be the leads of “Bell, Book & Candle.”

Michal loved the script as soon as she read it. She was especially excited to get the part of Gillian because she had previously been involved in drama productions, so having a light-hearted role was a nice change of pace.

Ford, on the other hand, was a bit intimidated. He had never played the leading man before.

“Our director asked us to watch a lot of romantic comedies from the ‘50s and I found that Cary Grant was a really great ticket in because he is a leading man but he’s not like Humphrey Bogart who is super serious with a deep voice,” Ford said.

Eventually they found their footing and grew into their characters and themselves. Director of “Bell, Book & Candle,” Elina de Santos, was happy with the turnout.

“All of the actors and all of the designers, which were students also, were extraordinary in terms of work ethic and how much they grew,” de Santos said. “They’re in a very good program and I was really impressed with how wonderful they were to work with in every way.”

“Bell, Book & Candle” is currently playing in Young Theatre until Dec. 10.

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