“Bewitched, Bothered and Belittled,” a spoof of the 1960s TV series, opens on Friday, July 21, at the Experimental Theatre X at the University of New Mexico.
Long a fan of ’60s culture and kitsch, Dolls co-founder Kenneth Ansloan was enthralled by the character of the witch Endora, played by Agnes Moorehead, swathed in chiffon, caftans and muu-muus. Endora is the mother of Samantha, also a witch, who has surrendered her powers to become an ordinary suburban housewife in a mixed marriage. The series ran from 1964 to 1972.
“Of course, I grew up with the television series and I always thought it had such a talented cast of Agnes Moorehead, Elizabeth Montgomery and Paul Lynde,” Ansloan said.
He chose the flamboyant Endora over series star Samantha “because I could do a really good Endora,” he said. “Endora is the drag queen of all drag queens.”
Equal parts homage and parody, the Dolls’ play sprang from both Ansloan’s imagination and research.
“I watched a lot of the episodes,” he said. “Of course, (Samantha’s daughter) Tabitha has a birthday party, and the guests are all the other ghoulish characters in TV series of the time —— Wednesday and Pugsley Addams from ‘The Addams Family’ and Eddie Munster from ‘The Munsters.’ ”
In a mirror of the series, Endora tortures Samantha’s husband Darrin by calling him every name but his own.
“Endora thinks Darrin’s gay at one point,” Ansloan said.
Nosy neighbor Mrs. Kravitz makes an appearance, as does the ditzy Aunt Clara.
“And, of course, Uncle Arthur is so amazing; he was Paul Lynde; he’s kind of the gay uncle,” he added.
Noses wiggle, spells emerge miscast as mortal neighbors’ suspicions swell. The characters collide in a cauldron only the Dolls could concoct.