When I heard that this brand new musical was coming out on tour, but also that it was coming to a theatre close to me I was so excited. Being a personal favourite of the Disney industry, Bedknobs and Broomsticks flew to the stage perfectly!
Based on the iconic 1971 Disney movie of the same name, Bedknobs and Broomsticks tells the story of the three orphaned Rawlins children who are reluctantly evacuated from London to live in the countryside with the mysterious Eglantine Price, what they don’t know is they have no idea what adventures will lie ahead. With a new book written by Brian Hill and new songs and lyrics created by Neil Bartram it brings a new take on the classic, but it keeps to its roots with the inclusion of the films classic songs ‘Portobello Road’ ‘The Age of Not Believing’ and ‘The Beautiful Briny’ by the musical classics The Sherman Brothers.
The one thing that you cannot mention with this production, is the magic that is brought to life by the cast. From the mastermind award winning director/set and illusion designer Jamie Harrison (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), alongside Candice Edmund they really have created a jaw dropping – how did they do that musical that does Disney proud! From broomsticks and beds lying in front of our eyes, to shoes, trousers and shirts dancing by themselves your blown away by what you are witnessing throughout, it really made sure the show was true to its magical story.
Another highlight for this production was the beautiful puppetry for the ‘Land of No Peepol,’ as many of you know I have a soft spot when it comes to puppetry and tonight’s were just phenomenal! From the Norman in the Briny Sea, to the bear on land you couldn’t take your eyes off them and with a fair few talented cast members manoeuvring them the only focus was on the animal alone. They were just beautiful and again brought the magic to stage!
But all of this magic could not of been possible without a cast to bring it to life, the ensemble themselves were tremendous at not only displaying the many different characters throughout the story but also being in control of the staging, props and effects throughout and do it swimmingly! Sam Lupton, Mark Anderson, Rob Madge, Matthew Elliot-Campbell and Emma Thornett all portrayed their animal friends expertly bringing character to life of the puppet that made you fall in love with them instantly!
Then you have the leading cast, led by Dianne Pilkington as Eglantine Price a role created by the iconic Angela Lansbury would be quite daunting to some performers but Dianne hopped onto her broom with a breeze! Her voice was outstanding but her acting and character fitted brilliantly for Eglantine and she was very enjoyable to watch. Her relationship with Emelius Brown played by Charles Brunton was delightful to watch especially at the Briny Ballroom. Charles had the comic element of Emelius but also the sweet innocent side of someone who just wants to entertain. His magic tricks and energy on stage never dimmed making him enjoyable throughout.
Then there was the children, who shows that talent can come from all ages Conor O’Hara makes his debut as Charlie Rawlins straight out of Mountview and is ensuring that he is proving he deserves to be on stage! He showed all emotions within the role, but also the caring side that he just wants to do what is best for his brother and sister, played by the outstanding Dexter Barry and Poppy Houghton. The Trio are on stage for the majority of the show, but they never lack in energy ensuring the audience have a good time.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is by far the Magical Musical is displays on its programme, proving that even a touring production can be just as big as if it was on a West End stage – although this show defiantly deserves one after its run! This not only allows the magic to be brought to life in so many different locations but allows all ages to see an amazing show in their hometown without the travel to the city! A Disney classic brought to life perfectly a much loved film and introduces a new era to fall in love with it too!