FamilyMusicalNorth WestReview

Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Reviewer: Clare Comer

Music/Lyircs: Sherman Brothers

New songs and additional music / lyrics: Neil Bartram

Book: Brian Hill

Directors: Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison

The first ever stage adaptation of 1971 Disney classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks flew into the Liverpool Empire Theatre this week and brings with it some catchy songs, Illuminous fish and of course a magical flying bed!

Featuring original music and lyrics from the renowned Sherman Brothers, the story centres around three siblings – the Rawlins children, who are orphaned and then evacuated from London during World War Two. During the very first scene you witness the close bond these three children have and how the elder of the three, Charlie Rawlins (Conor O’Hara) is determined to keep them together and happy at all costs.

From the moment he steps foot on stage, O’Hara is a joy to watch. While he does appear noticeably older than the characters age of 13, it doesn’t matter as he brings a youthful energy to the role, which is reminiscent of a young Michael Crawford! He has great stage presence throughout and creates a strong sense of family and unity with the two younger children, Paul (Jasper Hawes) and Carrie (Poppy Houghton). Hawes and Houghton are everything you would hope they would be and more, showing all the emotions of two youngsters going through a traumatic time, but making the most of what they have.

The three children are placed into the care of the eccentric, Miss Eglantine Price (Dianne Pilkington), who is more interested in perfecting her magic skills than taking care of the children. Pilkington plays the role that was made famous by Angela Lansbury really well, showing her to be quirky, yet nonchalant where the children are concerned, but then mellowing towards the end and even potentially finding romance with oddball magician Emilius Browne (Charles Brunton). Brunton and Pilkington show how love can be found in the most unlikely of places and that home can be anywhere if you feel you truly belong.

The real magic in this show however comes from the magnificent ensemble who create some stand-out moments. The full company number Portabello Road is visually and vocally great and the Nopeepo Lagoon scene is captivating. Having cast members operating puppets and moving sets (magically designed by Jamie Harrison) so seamlessly only adds to the fantasy of it all and makes this production a visual sensation.

Overall, the show is a massive hit. Some younger audience members may not be able to fully understand the story and it should maybe come with an older age recommendation, however with “an enchanted Bedknob, bewitched broomstick and a magical flying bed” the show provides a much-needed break from reality and may even make you believe in magic!

Runs until 26 February and continues on tour

The Reviews Hub Score

Totally Magical

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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