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Sarah Crown
Theatre Correspondent
9:00 AM 16th October 2021
arts

Bedknobs And Broomsticks – A Magical Evening

photo Johan Persson
photo Johan Persson
Set in the darkest days of the Second World War, Bedknobs and Broomsticks tells the tale of the orphaned three Rawlins children who are evacuated from London to the safety of the countryside. Finding themselves in the fictional Dorset town of Pepperinge Eye, the children are placed in the care of the eccentric Miss Price who is more interested in completing her magic studies under the tutelage of Professor Emelius Browne than childcare.

Before the children can say abracadabra, she is casting spells on their bed and sending them heavenwards on a wonderful magical adventure.

It’s always interesting to see how successfully a well-loved film will transfer to the stage, but have no worries, as this is a visual masterpiece.

Dianne Pilkington - photo Johan Persson
Dianne Pilkington - photo Johan Persson
Dianne Pilkington takes the role of Miss Eglantine Price, a role formerly immortalised by the great Angela Lansbury, and immediately makes it her own. She sings and dances with aplomb and makes what must be a technically difficult role appear effortless. No mean feat when you are flying hither and thither on your broomstick!

Along with the children, Emelius Browne, ably played by Charles Brunton, accompanies Eglantine on her magical journey. The two perfectly complement each other throughout the show but particularly as they sing and dance their way through ‘The Beautiful Briny Sea’.

New musical numbers complement the original Sherman & Sherman score and thanks to the work of composer and lyricist Neil Bartram, in conjunction with Brian Hill, they integrate seamlessly.

photo Johan Persson
photo Johan Persson
As you might expect the well-known show stopping numbers such as ‘Portobello Road’ are truly spectacular.

Beautifully designed puppets are used to fantastic effect throughout the show and it is clear that their designer, Kenneth MacLeod, has worked closely with both directors, Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds, as well as spending time with the actors, to ensure that each takes on a lifelike quality. I particularly liked the rabbit but the lion came a very close second!

This is a show with many highlights but for me, and others in the audience, the flying bed along with the broomstick were truly memorable. The bedframe glows as the bed flies across the stage on its magical journey whilst the broomstick takes on a life of its own!

photo Johan Persson
photo Johan Persson
The special effects, lighting and set design are fantastic whilst the costumes designed by Gabriella Slade are both creative, colourful and beautiful.

This show really is a visual feast and the ticket price is worth every penny.

Perhaps, the show can be best summed up by the reaction of a small child sat behind me. He had really wanted to go and play football but his Mum had persuaded him to come to the theatre instead. He sat open mouthed throughout the performance and when it had ended, he turned to his Mum and said ‘Can we come again tomorrow Mum?’

The seal of approval if ever there was one.

Leeds Grand Theatre until January 2nd 2022.

Original Tour Review - S Crown
Sheffield Lyceum Theatre