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In love, everyone may wish they could use a little magic to make things go their way, but relationships are never that easy, even for witches.

Actors Circle is opening its 31st season at the Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Rd., Scranton, with the supernatural romantic comedy, "Bell, Book and Candle," by John Van Druten.

It follows free-spirited Gillian Holroyd, unlucky in love, restless in life and a witch. The love of her life, Shep Henderson, becomes engaged to her college rival, so she uses all her magic to stop the impending wedding but learns that love is the strongest spell of all.

It's a story that charmed Clarks Summit director David Hunisch when he first read the play, later suggesting it to Actors Circle.

"I had come across it one day at the library. It's sort of set during the period, especially in Broadway history, that I really like. It was written in the late ‘40s and it premiered on Broadway in 1950. That's sort of the Golden Age of Broadway theater. I really like that period," Hunisch said.

"It's an elegant, funny comedy, and it brings in some different supernatural elements as well, which gives it a bit of an edge."

The 32-year-old seasoned actor made his directorial debut at the Providence Playhouse with the opening show of its 30th season, "The Ladies of the Camellias" and will bring that knowledge to his second time in the director's chair.

"The two shows are actually very different, but I think in terms of being a director, it's different from acting in the sense that you're not just coming to the experience with what your character needs and just your relation to the rest of the actors on stage. You really have to have your eyes open all the time to the whole production. You have to notice very little, minute details as well as working with the actors," Hunisch explained.

"I think the challenge is just trying to keep it from getting too hokey. You always want to try to keep it as real as possible…I try to get them to always come back to, ‘What is the character's initial motivation? Why are they here? What do they want?' I think if you really focus on that and then bring in a lot of energy and try to keep the connection between the actors, I think what ends up coming out on stage is natural and believable and serves the text well."

Inspired by the original Broadway production, which starred Rex Harrison, Hunisch admitted that he is not a fan of the movie starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, but he also wanted to choose a play that people may recognize from the 1958 film adaptation.

"Especially in this area, I think a lot of people like to see things that they're somewhat familiar with, but at the same time, I think the play is a little different than the movie, so there will be some surprises for them as well," he noted.

"(The movie) expands the story to other locales and brings in other characters that aren't in the play, and I think the movie lacks a bit of the intimacy that the show has."

Hunisch feels the humor and mystical elements, mixed with a "poignant love story" are what make "Bell, Book and Candle," which runs from Sept. 20-30, a "very satisfying show."

"I think the show does have a little bit of everything in it. I think we have a very strong cast of local actors, and I think it's an enjoyable show, too," he said. "We have a nice physical production as well. I think we have a nice set and nice costumes and things like that."

If you go

What: Actors Circle presents "Bell, Book and Candle"

Where: Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Rd., Scranton

When: Sept. 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, and 30; Thurs., Fri., Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m.

Preview: Sept. 20, $8 general/senior, $6 students

Cost: $12 general, $10 senior, $8 student

Info: For reservations, call 570.342.9707, visit www.actorscircle.org

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