The Disney classic is brought to the stage in this musical version on the 70s hit. As someone who has never seen the film, I was going into this completely blind, and was unsure what to expect. All that I knew about the film was that it featured magical bedknobs and magical broomsticks – and thankfully, the play did not fail to disappoint on that front.
The story tells the tale of three young children (played, during our performance, by Conor O’Hara, Evie Lightman and Jasper Hawes) who are evacuated during the second world war after their parents were tragically killed during an air raid. The opening scene was a fast-moving montage that cleverly conveyed the huge upheaval in the children’s lives, as they moved away from London and went to stay with Miss Eglantine Price (Dianne Pilkington). Miss Price is a witch (of course!) and wants to create a spell to fight off the Nazis. In order to find the magical spell words, the children and their new guardian travel across the country (and beyond) on a flying bed, along the way meeting Emelius Browne (Charles Brunton) who comes along for the adventure.
The production was fantastic, with plenty of magic and stage trickery to keep everyone entertained, from realistic animal puppets to glow-in-the-dark fish to a flying bed. Seriously though – how did that bed fly? It was a conundrum that continued to plague my friends and I on our journey home.
The music was also very upbeat and helped move the plot along nicely, although some parts were a bit repetitive for my liking, such as the need to repeat the same lyrics each time before jumping onto the flying bed. The play was a little long, especially for the young target audience, and it was felt that some bits could have been cut down considerably without losing too much of the plot.
The children actors were all incredibly impressive, and Pilkington and Brunton brought just the right amount of comedy and emotion to their demanding roles. Overall, this is a feel good production that will no doubt have you smiling throughout and leaving with a great sense of joy (and maybe bafflement). Fans of the film will definitely find lots to enjoy here.
‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ is on tour until May 2022, and remains at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sunday 10th October. For more details, see the website below:
Tom Morley, October 2021