FamilyFeaturedMusicalNorth WestReview

Bedknobs and Broomsticks – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: John McRoberts

Book: Brian Hill

Original Music/Lyrics: The Sherman Brothers

New Music/Lyrics: Neil Bartram

Director: Candice Edmunds & Jamie Harrison

The power of magic is firmly alive in the latest Disney musical to take to the stage in this sumptuous, heart-warming, and enchanted production.

Based on the 1971 hybrid live-action/animated movie starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, this new musical adaptation pays homage to the original film, while still ensuring plenty of original touches capture the hearts of a new generation.

World War II is in full swing and children are being evacuated from London to the country. Recently orphaned Charlie Rawlins (Conor O’Hara), younger sister Carrie (Evie Lightman), and younger brother Paul (Aidan Oti) are sent to the small village of Pepperinge Eye to be under the guardianship of Englantine Price (Dianne Pilkington) – an apprentice witch who is being mentored by magician extraordinaire Emelius Browne (Emelius Browne).

As a musical Bedknobs and Broomsticks doesn’t quite hit the musical heights of other Disney shows, the strongest songs in the production are very much the ones that make the film so memorable – however, this production’s strength lies in the stage magic that is produced courtesy of a brilliantly tight-knitted ensemble. Illusions, puppetry, and physical theatre combine perfectly with Jamie Harrison’s stunning set design, Kenneth MacLeod’s larger-than-life puppets, and Simon Wilkinson’s atmospheric lighting design. This is a visual treat from the opening montage, through to the final motorbike ride into the night – you can’t help but be blown away.

The cast are just as strong – Pilkington is sensational as Englantine Price evoking an older Mary Poppins vibe with just the right amount of cheekiness which balances brilliantly with Charles Brunton’s eccentric portrayal of Emelius Browne. Rawlins, Lightman, and Oti work fantastically together, there is a real on-stage chemistry between the three performers that is a true delight to watch. Jacqui Dubois lends excellent support as Mrs Hobday and Rob Madge’s fish Norton is a real hoot!

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a rare treat that makes a film-to-stage adaptation even more magical than the original. A strong cast, excellent stage design and mind-boggling illusions (the bed!!!) combine to make a perfect night out at the theatre.

Runs until Sat 19 March 2022 and continues on UK Tour

Enchanting

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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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