The latest Disney classic to be transformed for the stage is the mystical Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Based on the 1971 classic film, this is a story that really does capture the imagination as we see 3 orphaned siblings of WW2 evacuated to the home of peculiar but charming witch Eglantine Price. In a bid to save the soldiers, the group set off on a magical adventure leading to storybook lands to find the right people and the perfect spells for the job.
The cast of this production are exceptional, bringing bags of energy to every scene. Each member is brilliantly animated and completely enthralling whether they’re playing a bookseller, cloud or bear. The children really wowed me with their amazing talent, both giving faultless performances throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed the music in this show which includes the Sherman Brothers classics as well as some brilliant new numbers written by Neil Bartram. Every song is performed with stunning vocals and gorgeous choreography. There is a brilliantly exciting rendition of ‘Portobello Road’ which comes close to the end of Act One and is packed to the brim with movement and intrigue – one of a few mesmerising moments in the production. Act 2 see’s dazzling costuming and exceptional puppetry transport the audience into a magnificent cartoon world which I wish we had stayed in for longer.
The magical moments in this show certainly do wow the audience and I only wish there were more. The bewitched broomstick in the bedroom near the start of the show was the much needed injection of energy that got the production going and I would say one of the highlights of the show. Brilliantly engineered and expertly performed, it left us all thinking “how the heck did they do that?!”. Unfortunately though, until this moment I did find the show a bit slow to get going and although the backstory was told in an interesting almost abstract way, I imagine it would go over a lot of the younger audience members heads. The magical moments are definitely what kept the show moving, from the iconic flying bed to transfiguration and marching armoury – these moments were truly spellbinding, despite a few being a little clunky.
The design concept of the show beautifully sets the scene for the war-torn era in which it is based which is a stark contrast to the magical, glittering Island of Nopeepo to which we travel. At times the design feels too busy and the sheer number of moving set pieces feels chaotic and cluttered. When used well though, these set pieces really add to the magic. Some polishing is needed to really utilise each aspect to its full potential without overdoing it. The show definitely ebbs and flows between moments of excitement and moments that feel a little slow – It feels like they’ve put too many eggs in a few scenes baskets and not enough in others.
Overall, Bedknobs and Broomsticks the Musical is a lovely transformation of a well loved classic. It is too abstract and slow moving in parts to keep tiny audience members gripped but kids over 7 will love it. If you’re after a trip down memory lane or a night filled with magic this certainly fills the quota. I think with a few tweaks – it could be a soaring hit. That’s not to say its not worth a visit now though – it is charming, captures the imagination and provides a brilliant 3 hours of escapism.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is at Curve, Leicester until Saturday 13th February before continuing on its flight across the UK. For tickets and information click here.
*Production Images by Johan Persson
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