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The spellbound show for small sleepheads

For my ‘big’ birthday, which took place last week, I am planning to do 40 things throughout 2022 – one to mark each of my years. They don’t have to be adrenaline fuelled or extravagant, just a mixture of different things, experiences or activities, visiting new places and adventures with friends and family.  

Some of the original things I had hoped to do have had to go on the ‘maybe next year’ list, as the pandemic continues to cause disruption and my planned party also had to be postponed due to a positive Covid case in the family. However, the one thing that didn’t get affected was my visit to the Hippodrome to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks and so this was number 1 on my list!  

And what a great one to kick it off!  

Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks was one of my favourite childhood films and even though I’ve not seen it for many years, I still remember all the songs and liked to think I remembered most of the story. However, it’s funny what you do forget over time and so watching this show, was like a wonderful trip down memory lane from start to finish.  

My worry with any musical adaptation is that it won’t have the same songs, but this not only had the original classics such as Portobello Road, The Beautiful Briny, The Age of Not Believing and Substitutiary Locomotion, created by the famed Sherman brothers, who brought us Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious from Mary Poppins and other wonders from The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and many more, but a whole host of new ones from Neil Bartram, that blended perfectly to give us this modern magical musical.  

Starting in London, the opening scenes of the show were fantastically choreographed, cleverly showing the devastation of World War II, which forced thousands of children, including orphaned Charlie, Carrie and Paul Rawlins, to leave the city for the safety of the countryside. They are then sent to live with Miss Eglantine Price, played by Diane Pilkington.  

Now, while, I naturally remember she was a witch, (the spells and broom would make it impossible not to!) I hadn’t realised she was actually an apprentice and that her purpose for becoming one was to help end the war. It shows how one-dimensionally I watched the film when I was younger! It’s hard not to compare the actors to the originals. There were some huge stars, including the wonderful Angela Lansbury, who played Miss Price and David Tomlinson as Emelius Brown. However, all the cast brought their own quirkiness to each character, which made me believe every word they had to say…or sing. 

Emelius Brown’s character was much more jovial than in the film, but on stage this worked really well. My favourite had to be Miss Price, the star of the show and a wonderful singing voice.

However, I also thought Charlie Rawlins, the eldest of the siblings, played by Conor O’ Hara, was brilliant. It was hard to believe this was his first role


since graduating from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and I have no doubt we’ll be seeing him in many other roles in the very near future.

I also really loved Jacqui Du Bois as Mrs Hobday, who has a much bigger role in the stage version than the film. Her character brought a real humour to the production and lots of laughs from the audience. 

What made this show so magical and extraordinary is how they cleverly created so many different scenes within a relatively small stage area. And I’m still trying to work out how the broom and other objects mysteriously moved in different directions with no obvious way of being able to see how it was done.

As an adult, we always want to know how things are done, but in this case, I think it really was magic! Add to that the actors being changed into rabbits, and swords, shoes and armour dancing around and it all made for a spectacular night out and birthday treat. I couldn’t help but gasp when the infamous bed that the children and Miss Price use to travel around on, lit up and then quite literally flew around the stage. It was everything that I hoped it might be, and more.  

I only spotted that Bedknobs and Broomsticks was coming to the theatre when I went to the pantomime in December, but it was one I absolutely wanted to see and I’m so thrilled I was able to get to see it during a short run.  

Whether you loved the film or have never seen it, I’d urge anyone to book tickets to this when it’s next in town. It will appeal to any age group and is simply a triumph! 

Trudi Hodges

Bedknobs and Broomsticks the tour is based on the 1971 Walt Disney film and the stories by Mary Norton. It features the original songs by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman, new songs and additional music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill. Future tour dates and details of ticket bookings are HERE

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