Bedknobs and Broomsticks – the Magical Musical
Music & Lyrics by The Sherman Brothers / Neil Bartram
Book by Brian Hill
Directed by Candice Edmunds
Choreography by Neil Bettles
Produced by Michael Harrison / Disney Theatrical Productions
Nottingham Theatre Royal dates Weds 6th- Sunday 10th October 2021
For other UK tour dates and venues.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks – the magical musical. That is what this show bills itself as – the magical musical. So many families visiting this show will be expecting something pretty special I guess. For some the story may be brand new and for others fondly embedded in their affection for the original Disney film. We often hear older people say “Oh Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of my absolute favourites. I loved it as a child and wished I had a broomstick, a book of spells, a magical flying bed and a nice friendly witch friend like Miss Eglantine Price.” With these notions ‘bobbing along’ in the minds of our audiences, and a certain reviewer, sat here in the dark tonight; we can only open our hearts and minds to those actors on stage, the creatives and producers, the set builders and costume designers and ‘start believing’ in a truly magical night at the theatre for all. We just have to sincerely believe with all our hearts. We can do that can’t we boys and girls, mums and dads and you young teenager, near the end of row J? Yes you- the one who is constantly looking at your phone and rustling your sweet packet. Miss Price could turn you into a bunny rabbit at any moment. I digress.
So, after all this teasing pre-amble I bet you want to know if it works and just how magical it is. Folks – it is holding back those brimming hot tears of joy, type magical. Like the best parts of your own childhood brought to life on stage. The moments of wonder, the innocence the vulnerability of children. Big word alert. It is constantly chock full of heart-soaring feats of pure prestidigitation. That is magic illusions to me and you. You’ll believe a witch can fly a broomstick on stage. You’ll gasp with wonder at the flying bed, glowing and loaded up with Miss Eglantine Price (Dianne Pilkington) and the three Rawlings children, thirteen year -old Charlie (Conor O’Hara), confident Carrie (Evie Lightman) , sweet little Paul (Jasper Hawes) and the excitable Professor Emelius Browne (Charles Brunton).
The fish under the sea are veritably enchanting and bloody funny at times. The King is a … well that would be a spoiler… but I can let you know that this King is very fierce and is a super example of the brilliant puppetry throughout the whole show.
The leads, Pilkington, Brunton, O’Hara, Lightman and Hawes all have great charm and lovability and act and sing their 1940s style socks off throughout. We particularly revel in the characterful Rob Madge and his chatterbox big fish called Norton and definitely warm to the charming organiser of the evacuees played with brio by the enigmatic Jacqui Dubois.
It is a very busy show with constantly changing scenes swiftly taking us from WW2 war bombed London to the English countryside and more fantastical lands. The whole ensemble work very hard in creating and populating each scene, moving scenery and giving their collective all singing-dancing best. The Portobello Road scene is one of the colourful and lively highlights. In Jamie Harrison’s set design we witness the one constant of the blown out shell of the Rawlings’ family home. Whilst we and the characters are moved to worlds of fantasy the broken fabric of the house is perhaps reminding us that real death and danger is just around the corner and may happen anytime soon.
Jamie Harrison’s stage illusions are genuinely unfathomable and thrilling. I mean- just how the heck does Miss Price fly on her broomstick through a closed window frame? How? And the bed flying illusion… well I’d rather not know frankly, and just want enjoy the magical effects. And so should you, dear review readers. Go and enjoy this marvellously colourful and bona fide magical show. It certainly earns its own title and more!