Bedknobs and Broomsticks Review
Review by Callum Stott.
"A fun family musical with iconic songs and a large helping of magic!"
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a Disney childhood classic brought to life here on stage with an impressive soundtrack, very clever puppetry, and tons of magic.
The story of Bedknobs and Broomsticks starts with three youngsters sent off to live in the countryside during the Blitz in London in WW2. They then meet Eglantine Price, the part immortalised by Angela Lansberry in the 1971 movie of the same name and this production portrayed by Dianne Pilkington. Eglantine is a very eccentric lady hiding a bit of a secret – she is a real-life witch! Once the children discover her secret, they all go on a quest with Eglantine, in which they meet Emelius Browne, played here by Charles Brunton, to try and cast a spell to help fight off the approaching enemy army.
Dianne Pilkington is a brilliant actress, and she embodies the character well here. My only criticism of this musical is that they have written the character too Mary Poppins for my liking. They could have made her character a bit more reserved at the start, as they do in the book and film. This change would have created a more surprising moment when she eventually breaks out and sings and dances. Charles Brunton as Emelius Browne is the show’s highlight. He brings the character to the stage with great wit and charm and is a fabulous showman.
When it comes to the set design, this production feels slightly stripped back. Comparing it to Mary Poppins, it sometimes feels like a budget production. The acting and performances certainly are delivered to a high standard, but the set could be a bit bigger and brighter to help the scenes pop out more on stage.
Some of the highlights include The Beautiful Briny and Portobello Road. These numbers deliver well in having quality vocals and great movement on stage. Also, the puppetry in some of the scenes under the sea is very impressive. The Lion puppet was so epic it felt like it could easily belong in The Lion King.
Overall, the show is like stepping in a time capsule to your childhood. The musical also opens up the songs and story to future generations, with many younger audience members whooping and cheering as the curtain closed. Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a fun family musical with iconic songs and a large helping of magic!